Tuna fisheries: IOTC is in a dangerous situation at the moment, says Seychelles’ fisheries minister
All Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) member countries should let science guide decisions and make an effort to follow decisions agreed upon, said Seychelles’ fisheries minister on Monday at the commission’s 26th session.
In his opening address, Jean Francois Ferrari warned that “the credibility of our organisation is at stake” if all member countries do not join together to implement measures that will contribute toward the rebuilding of yellowfin tuna stocks and for proper management of all other stocks and species in the Indian Ocean.
“IOTC is in a dangerous situation at the moment. If as an organisation that has in place measures that need to be applied by member countries and this is not happening, the organisation will collapse,” Ferrari told reporters.
He added that the biggest challenge remains the management of fish stocks in the Indian Ocean that are under a lot of pressure, especially yellowfin tuna that has been in the red for some years now. He pointed out that this would be the priority item on the agenda.
Ferrari outlined that there is a great need for cooperation to ensure the conservation of tuna and tuna-like species in the Indian Ocean.
“We all claim our historical and geographical rights to access these important resources, but the real question is whether we are all genuinely prepared to find a common solution to attain these goals, or have we decided to fight each other from his or her own corner?” Ferrari asked while addressing all member countries.
He said that Seychelles, like many small island developing states, is extremely dependent on the tuna resources from a socio-economic and food security point of view, noting that Seychelles’ economy would have collapsed when tourists could no longer come to Seychelles because of the COVID pandemic. “It survived as a result of the fisheries sector and in particular the tuna fishing sector, especially the purse seining activities,” he said.
During the five-day session, a total of 15 proposals are being brought forward by Seychelles, Maldives, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, and the European Union (EU).
Taking place in Seychelles from May 16 to 20, the 26th session of the IOTC is the first partial face-to-face meeting to happen since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic started, with some participants taking part via video-conference.