Tuna companies and supermarkets have joined WWF in calling for better regulation of tuna fishing within the Indian Ocean.
In a letter signed by businesses – including Princes, John West, Carrefor, Casino, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, Aldi, Thai Union and Asda – they ask the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) to reduce catches of yellowfin tuna by 20% and introduce harvest control rules to ensure the sustainability of all Indian Ocean tuna stocks, including skipjack.
According to the latest stock assessment conducted by the IOTC, overfishing of yellowfin tuna has been rife in the Indian Ocean since 2013. The Commission, which is responsible for conservation and management of tuna and other marine resources in the Indian Ocean, has also stated that if immediate steps are not taken to end overfishing and rebuild the seriously depleted stock, there is a high risk of stock collapse within just five years.
However, after 20 years of talks, the Commission has yet to adopt any effective measures to control the exploitation of tuna stocks.
“The industry and communities that rely on a healthy yellowfin stock are rightly concerned by the IOTC’s predictions of a stock collapse in the near future, which would place their livelihoods under threat”, said Dr Wetjens Dimmlich, WWF Indian Ocean tuna program manager. “Measures need to be taken immediately to begin rebuilding the stocks of yellowfin tuna to sustainable levels. With the clear support of such a broad cross section of the tuna fishing community, WWF hopes the IOTC commissioners will respond to this call for action and take steps to protect the industry they are responsible for.”