Finalist, Seafood Champion Award Advocacy Category
The International Pole and Line Foundation promotes socially and environmentally responsible pole-and-line fisheries around the world. In 2016, the foundation played a central role in the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission’s adoption of a precautionary harvest strategy measure, a first for global tuna management.
Tunas are some of the most difficult species to manage effectively, as they are migratory, navigating huge geographical areas, and sought after by many competing fisheries. They are also very important to coastal communities that often lack a strong voice in international management bodies. In an effort to change that, the International Pole and Line Foundation took a leadership role in reforming tuna fisheries management across the entire Indian Ocean in 2016.
Early in 2016, scientists determined that Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna was overfished and that other species could go the same way if immediate action was not taken. While the International Pole and Line Foundation had been moving this work forward for years by supporting scientists and informing decision makers, this threat called for fast and effective action. The foundation convened a workshop, gathering representatives from 19 Indian Ocean coastal states and coordinating engagement with its network of members. In the end, over 14 countries co-sponsored a proposal (an IOTC record) spearheaded by a determined delegation from the Maldives.
The adoption of the Harvest Control Rule for Indian Ocean skipjack tuna signified another pivotal point for fisheries management and seafood sustainability. It was the first time that a tuna management body had agreed on a proactive, precautionary management system while a stock was still at a healthy level. The adoption paves the way for a new era in tuna fisheries management.