Good news for sharks at Indian Ocean Tuna Commission meeting
measures for oceanic white-tip sharks, whale sharks and cetaceans following the
Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) annual meeting last week in Mauritius.
IOTC member states agreed on important measures for the management of tuna fisheries and other vulnerable species such as white-tip sharks, which are not to be retained and need to be released unharmed if possible, while purse seiners can no longer set around whale sharks and cetaceans.
One very positive outcome was the adoption of a proposal by the Maldives with regard to interim target and reference points, and a framework for management decisions to be taken in response to changes in stock status.
A reference point is a benchmark value that helps managers decide how the fishery is performing and is often based on an indicator such as fishery stock size or the level of fishing. Fisheries scientists conduct a fishery stock assessment to provide estimates of a fishery stock size and fishing mortality over time. Reference points serve as a standard to compare those estimates based on our understanding of the biological characteristics of the targeted species.
"This is an important step towards the implementation of full harvest control rules and paves the way for the development of management tools essential for a sustainable fishery", said Dr Wetjens Dimmlich, Indian Ocean Tuna Coordinator for WWF’s Smart Fishing Initiative.
"WWF welcomes the increasing involvement of Indian Ocean coastal developing states in conservation proposals, demonstrating an awareness of the need to responsibly manage tuna fisheries in the region," Dr Dimmlich added.
"Negotiation and successful adoption of the Maldives proposal for the management of tunas in the Indian Ocean is indeed a giant leap forward in the history of IOTC.
"We are now confident and convinced that together we can make IOTC an effective tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisation", said Dr Hussain R Hassan, the Maldives Minister of State for Fisheries and Agriculture, and head of the Maldives’ delegation.
WWF looks forward to continuing work in cooperation with the Maldives Government and other developing coastal states in the region to improve the management and conservation of tuna stocks.