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ISSF Urges For 100% Observer Coverage On Atlantic Seiners Atlantic Ocean, November 4, 13

For the ICCAT’s regular meeting to be held on November 18th in Cape Town, South Africa, the ISSF urges ICCAT to extend the 100% observer coverage on large-scale purse seiners in its tropical tuna fisheries to cover the entire year. This would be facilitated if it included a regional mechanism that provides that an observer from a coastal State national program (registered with the Secretariat) will be valid in other countries’ EEZs; a system that is already in use for tuna seiners over 400 M/T in the WCP and the EPO.

The industry sustainability organization also wants a full retention of catches of all tunas. While other RFMOs have adopted tuna catch retention measures, to-date ICCAT has not taken steps to do the same. The dumping of less valuable tuna in favor of higher value catch distorts our understanding of the actual impact on the tuna stocks by fishing operations.
Member countries of the ICCAT also urgently requested to lower the current TAC for southern Atlantic albacore. For the southern albacore stock, different models gave different results, but the median estimate suggests the stock is somewhat overfished (spawning biomass 8% below the MSY level) and subject to slight overfishing (fishing mortality is 4% above the MSY level). Projections indicate that ,at the current TAC level, the stock status will improve only by 2020 in terms of rebuilding and ending overfishing with a probability greater than 50%. ISSF wants to see the current TAC decreased to max. 24,000 M/T for southern albacore, and in no case to increase it.
As to the northern Atlantic albacore stock, also called Bonito Del Norte, there are indications that the stock is slightly overfished but increasing (spawning biomass is 6% below the MSY level) and overfishing is not occurring. The industry organization asks the ICCAT to not increase the current TAC of 28,000 M/T for northern albacore in order to allow the stock to continue to rebuild.
Other measures requested by ISSF are, a prohibition to deliberate purse seine setting around whale sharks, and the at-sea removal of shark fins – mandating that they remain naturally attached until the shark is landed, and a new assessment for the skipjack stocks in 2014.