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Common Oceans - A partnership for sustainability in the ABNJ

Tuna-RFMOs join efforts to improve FAD management

26 October 2017

Madrid, Spain – 19-21 April 2017. Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs), floating devices either anchored or drifting, are used to attract fish species that assemble near objects that float. While FADs attract species of interest, they also attract the attention of non-targeted marine life. Tropical tuna purse seine fisheries have been using this technique extensively to lure and catch large quantities of fish, and the need for effective management is becoming increasingly important. As a result, certain tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) have created specific FAD Working Groups with the aim to address issues related to tuna fisheries.

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© Wade Fairley

A first joint FAD meeting for tuna-RFMOs was organized in Madrid in April under the lead of ICCAT, to promote discussions on tropical tuna FAD fishing on an ocean wide perspective, in response to an incentive for cooperation in the spirit of the Kobe Process. The meeting agenda covered a number of issues related to the management of tuna fisheries conducted with the help of FADs, in particular the need to develop procedures and designs in order to reduce the incidental take of non-target species in tuna fisheries. The Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project and the European Union offered to finance this first joint tuna-RFMO meeting, enabling the independent existing Working Groups in each RFMO to join forces.

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© ISSF, Jeff Muir

Representatives from ICCAT, IOTC and IATTC States, and the organizations FAD Working Group Chairs, attended the meeting that was chaired by Mr. Stefaan Depypere (chair of the Kobe process). Also in attendance were eight non-governmental organizations and entities including Greenpeace, the International Pole & Line Foundation, International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, Marine Stewardship Council, PEW Charitable Trusts, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, TRI MARINE, and the World Wildlife Fund.

Each tuna-RFMO provided a presentation with an updated summary of technical findings and management and conservation measures adopted by each Commission. The presentations were followed by assessments of recent FAD technology used in all three convention areas, and a review of data requirements. Participants acknowledged the need to identify common definitions used in science and management of FADs, and to encourage collaboration between industry and scientists for developing effective mitigation techniques. All agreed that it would be beneficial to harmonize data collection processes, and establish comprehensive systems that optimizes tracking and monitoring of FAD equipment across the tropical oceans.

As a result, this first meeting proved to be a success, underlining the importance of taking diverse views from all stakeholders in regards to issues related to FADs. However, not all objectives were met, and it was the general opinion that a technical working group on FADs should be created under the Kobe process to continue the work initiated during the meeting.

The Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project, funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, harnesses the efforts of a large and diverse array of partners, including the five tuna-RFMOs, governments, inter-governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and private sector to achieve responsible, efficient and sustainable tuna production and biodiversity conservation in the ABNJ.

Further information and the meeting report is available here.

For additional information, contact:

Global Environment Facility (GEF) Common Oceans International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)