Responsible Fishing Practices for Sustainable Fisheries

Operationalization of FAO Voluntary Guidelines for the Marking of Fishing Gear in the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) area of competence


A system for the marking of fishing gear should be an integral part of fisheries management. The marking of fishing gear is an important tool to reduce gear loss and aid recovery, helps in determining ownership, assists in the management and control of fishing effort, facilitates monitoring, control and surveillance, and deters IUU fishing. The marking of fishing gear also contributes to safe navigation. This document evaluates the major fishing gears that harvest species under the management of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) through a risk assessment to determine the level of complexity when implementing a system of fishing gear marking. The analysis includes five types of fishing gear, which account for 90 percent of fish landings in the IOTC area of competence, as well as two types of fish aggregating device (FAD). Purse seines, drift gillnets, and drifting FADs are deemed to have “high” or “very high” overall risks, while anchored FADs have “medium” risks, and handline, pole-and-line and trolling lines have “very low” risks.

Based on the evaluation, the document proposed a framework for marking these fishing gears and FADs, based on the principles outlined in the FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Marking of Fishing Gear. It also provides an indicative economic assessment for implementing a system of fishing gear marking in the IOTC area, based on the responsibilities between the IOTC Secretariat, the Contracting Parties and Cooperating Non-contracting Parties (CPCs), and fishing operators (fishers, fisher organizations and/or corporations).

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