ISSF launches five-year plan for sustainable tuna fisheries


NGO International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) has released its strategic plan for 2018-2022 with the aim to improve sustainability of tuna fisheries.

Called “Advancing Sustainable Tuna Fisheries: A Five-Year Plan”, the plan advances three core pillars of science, influence, and verification, encompassing tuna stock health and fisheries by-catch, outreach to regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) and vessels, partnerships with tuna companies, fishery improvement support, and more, said the NGO in a press release.

The ultimate aim is for tuna fisheries to meet Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification standard without conditions, it said.

The plan was developed over a ten-month period with input from ISSF partners representing more than a dozen external stakeholder groups and organizations.

“Since ISSF began its work in 2009, tuna fisheries have changed, the industry has changed, and sustainability challenges have strengthened stakeholder cooperation,” said ISSF president Susan Jackson. “As progress is made and priorities evolve, it is essential to recalibrate our strategies to continue to drive the industry towards a more sustainable future.”

A formalized focus on fisheries improvement projects is new to the plan. Meanwhile, the foundation also pledges to monitor emerging labor and social standards for tuna fishing activities, and to consider how ISSF and its nearly 30 participating tuna companies can support standards for best labor practices.

“ISSF has a reputation for taking the scientific route — identifying and advocating for approaches based on the best data available,” said Bill Fox, ISSF board member and vice president, fisheries, for the US arm of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature. “We look forward to the foundation bringing this rigorous focus to bear on the fisheries improvement work progressing across global tuna fisheries.”

Separately, ISSF has launched a related, infographic-rich microsite that explores five focus areas of the strategic plan: by-catch mitigation, fishery aggregation devices (FADs) and FAD management, illegal fishing, industry commitment, and harvest strategies.

Additional strategic plan goals laid out in the microsite include:

  • Harvest control rules for all commercial tuna stocks
  • All RFMOs require biodegradable FADs
  • 100% observer coverage across all gears and tuna fisheries
  • Additional tuna vessels of all gear types on ISSF’s pro-active vessel register
  • More companies across the tuna supply chain committing to ISSF conservation measures
  • ISSF participating companies maintaining full conformance with ISSF conservation measures

The microsite also highlights benchmarking tools and summarizes ISSF resources for FIPs and MSC certification efforts.

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