State of tuna stocks in focus


Mr Anganuzzi addressing delegates at the meeting

If they find it necessary they will later this week issue advice for binding rules which all who fish in this ocean must abide by or face penalties prescribed by international laws governing fish resources.

Such rules are covered for example by United Nations fishing agreements which say if you are fishing in a common area with other nations you have to sit with the fishing partners and decide the best actions to protect the resource.

Ships disobeying the laws are normally blacklisted and their products shunned by consumers.
The scientists are meeting under the umbrella of the Seychelles-based Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) in what its executive secretary Alejandro Anganuzzi called one of the most important annual events of the organisation.

“They are here to discuss the latest analysis on the situation of different stocks of various tuna species with a view to advising members of the commission on what actions are necessary to maintain sustainability, that is, protection of the resource,” he told Nation.

He said the delegates will also look at the results of other scientists and look at strategies of doing research to ensure there is more information available to help decision making regarding stock conservation.

He further told Nation it is too early to talk about the status of the stocks before hearing from the scientists but added generally it is believed stocks of key species are healthy and there has been no indications of reasons for major concern.

IOTC’s last meeting took place in Australia in April last year, when actions were taken to eliminate possible threats to sustainability.

He said the IOTC members are not just countries which border the Indian Ocean but also those whose boats fish in it as well as top global conservation bodies and other non-governmental together with intergovernmental bodies.

Seychelles has been chosen to host this year’s meeting because the secretariat is based here since the IOTC was formed in 1998 from when Seychelles has continued to be the centre of scientific talks.

“There will be diagnostics saying ‘this is the situation of the stocks’ and if necessary there will be advice on possible management actions from the member states.

He said it is important to recognise the role that Seychelles plays as the secretariat of the IOTC as it gives a centre for the activities of the commission.

“It reflects the importance that the tuna fisheries have for Seychelles and the role this country plays for the fisheries of the various countries through which tuna migrate because they move so much so it is a resource that we share with others from Iran, Oman, Indonesia, Thailand and others – we in Seychelles also share the same resource and in that very big community this country plays a fundamental role by anchoring the activities of the IOTC,” he said.