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Indian Ocean Fisheries Scrap Gillnets And Opt For Seiners Indian Ocean, September 9, 13

Gillnet use for tuna fishing in the Indian Ocean decreased by a massive 75 percent from 2011 to 2012, seeing a whole 285,042 tons less tuna catch from this method.

Tuna catch from purse seiners in this region however increased by a considerable 66 percent after remaining at a relatively steady level since 2008. As much as 180,050 tons more tuna was caught using this method in the Indian Ocean in 2012 compared to 2011.

In contrast to the rest of the globe, the Indian Ocean relies on artisanal, semi-industrial fisheries for approximately half of its total tuna catch. Smaller-scale fisheries are often seen to be more sustainable than industrial ones, due to the small by-catch figures they produce.

However, sustainability issues have come strongly to light in the Indian Ocean in recent years. With considerable amounts of catch coming from the use of gillnets, sometimes up to 25 percent of the annual total, by-catch tends to be commonly monitored in this region. Gill nets are regarded as one of the most destructive gear types for tuna fishing, as they use nearly invisible lines that entangle and drown a wide range of sea life.

Although IOTC members meeting in Mauritius agreed to introduce fishing limits across these waters, Greenpeace environmental group believes the current situation offers little room for optimism. However it seems fisheries in the Indian Ocean are realizing the market benefits from improving sustainability efforts, reducing their use of this dangerous gear type.

Using less gillnets may have the potential to reduce the amounts of juvenile tuna mortalities in the Indian Ocean per year, thus improving the future status of their diminishing stocks.