Fishing capacity in Indian Ocean

Greenpeace hopes the IOTC will improve records of vessels fishing for tuna. Photo: Jiri Rezac/Greenpeace Greenpeace hopes the IOTC will improve records of vessels fishing for tuna. Photo: Jiri Rezac/Greenpeace

Greenpeace International has released a report, presented to delegates attending the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) in Mauritius last week, highlighting the lack of data on fishing capacity in the Indian Ocean.

The report, Measuring fishing capacity in the Indian Ocean: an essential step for sound management, reveals that the IOTC is facing a number of challenges including the lack of reliable and accurate data on catches, fishing effort and fleet size and composition.

Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner, told World Fishing and Aquaculture: “It is not only a question of number of vessels but of the ability of those vessels to catch fish depending on fishing gears and practices used. In order to balance fishing effort with available marine resources, it is essential to measure fishing capacity of the fleets as accurately as possible."

The charity is calling on IOTC members to agree on a process and timeline to provide the Commission with the information needed to submit a reliable and accurate assessment of the size and composition of all the fleets fishing for tuna and tuna-like species.

Greenpeace says this should be based on both coastal and distant water, including large, medium and small scale vessels, along with information on whether the vessels are active or not, both on the high seas and in EEZs.

Ms Tolvanen added: "Although availability and reliability of capacity data for large scale tuna fleets in the Indian Ocean is reasonably good, data on the size and composition of small scale fleets are poor. Contributing almost half the tuna catches, they are essential for the livelihood of coastal communities and greatly contribute to food security in coastal developing countries. It is therefore crucial that they be adequately accounted for and also managed to ensure their long term environmental and social sustainability."

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