Member countries of regional body accept Seychelles’ proposal on tuna catch restriction
IOTC decided to reduce fishing allowances of the yellowfin tuna by 15 percent beginning of this year in June 2016 based on the total catch of 2014 (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles’ proposal to use 2015 instead of 2014 as the baseline year to reduce yellowfin tuna catch by 15 percent as per the resolution of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission’s (IOTC), was accepted by all member countries last week.
The motion was passed despite severe opposition from nations not directly linked to the Indian Ocean such as Japan and South Korea, and the European Union during the IOTC’s 21st session in Yogyakarta, Indonesia from May 22 to 26.
The Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Michael Benstrong compares the approval of the Seychelles’ proposal with ‘winning gold at the IOTC’.
“This time with a new team we managed to make unpreceded headway. We had to make some compromises in our original proposal, but our core needs have been realised,” said Benstrong in a press conference on Monday.
The chair of the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA), Nirmal Jivan Shah, said that with the approval “we prevented our local fishing boats from being tied up in port and at the same time conserving tuna stocks by limiting the number of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) by 20 percent more.”
Shah added that this will also limit “the supply vessels that deploy and manage the FADs by a whopping 50 percent by 2022 after which this figure will be examined for further reduction based on scientific advice.”
|The Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, compares the approval of the Seychelles’ proposal with ‘winning gold at the IOTC’. (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries) Photo License: CC-BY|
IOTC decided to reduce fishing allowances of the yellowfin tuna by 15 percent beginning of this year in June 2016 based on the total catch of 2014.
Seychelles had accepted the resolution during the 20th session in 2016 but later realised the impact the chosen year would that have had on its economy with fishing being the second top contributor. Seychelles has since then been pushing its case to use 2015 instead of 2014 as the baseline year but had run into opposition from members of the IOTC.
“By using the 2014 reference year, a “piracy year” with few operational fishing vessels, there would have been severe hardships in our economy starting from the Seychelles-flagged tuna vessels cascading right down our economy affecting livelihoods and various other sectors including tourism,” said Benstrong.
Sixteen motions were presented to IOTC’ member countries for approval and only eight were approved. Seychelles had three other motions, two of which were adopted.
“One motion boarded the subject of implementing conservative measures. In another, we asked for a ban on the throwing of by-catches back into the ocean, suggesting that these fishes be taken to shore and used for export or processed,” said Benstrong.
Seychelles also asked the Secretariat of the Commission to carry out a study to measure the impact that certain motions can have on small states such as Seychelles, Mauritius and Maldives. The motion, which had a direct link to the main one, needs to be worked on in depth and brought back to the 22nd IOTC session.