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Experts call for modern technology to ensure transparency and effective management of tuna fisheries

Posted on 18 May 2017

Karachi, Most of the developing countries lack the capacity to address the issue of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing mainly due to unavailability of research data, financial constraints and lack of access to modern technology. This was stated by speakers during a 2-day training workshop titled improving transparency and traceability in Tuna Fisheries in North Indian Ocean, organized by World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan) at a local hotel in Karachi. The workshop was conducted under a project, Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) which is financially supported by Global Environmental Fund (GEF), United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Seafood Sustainability Foundation and Common Oceans. The project primarily focuses on improving the health and sustainability of tuna fisheries worldwide by reducing illegal catch and supporting marine ecosystems and species. Officials from four Northern Indian Ocean countries including Pakistan, Iran, Maldives and Sri Lanka in addition to local participants from Government fisheries departments, maritime security agency and academia participated in the workshop.

Fisheries experts from different countries committed to support pilot projects on electronic monitoring systems to engage local fishing communities regarding transparency and sustainable management of coastal resources and more importantly on gathering catch data necessary for robust decision making. They also took into account that the regional cooperation could be enhanced for technology and knowledge transfer to create synergies in better resource management and finally workshop participants exchanged their ideas to improve fish landing sites particularly in regional countries. They hoped that this would enable to increase the local and regional food security and reduce post-harvest losses.

The experts also emphasized on developing joint proposals for a large marine ecosystem programme while considering the lessons learned from such programmes, as regards the Bay of Bengal programme. This would help regional cross-exchange for learning and supporting fisheries management, recognizing that fisheries are common goods and must be managed by all.

Speaking on the occasion, Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General WWF-Pakistan shared that marine resources are confronting major threats of pollution, destructive fishing methods and illegal, unreported and unsustainable (IUU) fishing among others. He was of the view that IUU is a big challenge which is getting augmented very rapidly. He emphasized that there is need to introduce technology transfer, improve facilities at landing ports and build the capacity of officials of relevant departments. ‘Transboundary collaborations, exchange of research data and expertise can help increase depleting tuna stocks in Arabian Sea,’ he added.

James Geehan, Fisheries Statistician from Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) Secretariat said that data reports vary considerably according to species. In case of Yellowfin tuna, one of the most well-reported species, around 50 per cent of catch and size data are missing. Talking about fisheries in Pakistan, he said that no catch-and-effort or size data is submitted. He also said that catch data also highly conflicting in recent years being reported by WWF-Pakistan and government department. He also said that although crew-based Regional Observer Scheme has been implemented in recent years – no data has been submitted to the IOTC Secretariat. In addition, Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) is partially implemented on limited number of vessels in Pakistan which need to be enhanced.

Hawwa Raufath Nazir, Project Officer Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture Maldives shared that Maldives Quality Seafood (MQS) which sources and supplies handline yellowfin tuna internationally, is the first Fair Trade Certified producer of seafood in the country. After being awarded Fair Trade certification earlier this year, Horizon Fisheries Maldives sells the first ever seafood product globally, canned skipjack tuna, that carries both the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Fair Trade Certified labels. Alfred Schumm, Director, WWF-International shared that IUU fishing is 20 per cent of the total global fish stocks. In order to tackle this issue, governments need to ensure regular monitoring, surveillance and sustainable management of fisheries. He emphasized that transparency and traceability can be possible through placement of Automatic Identification System (AIS); VMS, and Global Positioning System (GPS). ‘This would not only improve fisheries management but would support in traceability of other products from the oceans’, he added.

Rab Nawaz, Senior Director Programmes, WWF-Pakistan said that Observer Programme of WWF-Pakistan initiated in 2012, has trained more than 75 observers who have rescued and safely released thousands of marine turtles, whales, dolphins, sharks and other endangered marine species. He also shared that it is very successful initiative of WWF-Pakistan and is now being replicated by other countries. During the workshop, an award was also presented to fisherman, Iqrar Muhammad Nakhuda who has been actively engaged in conservation of precious marine life particularly green turtles, whale sharks and dolphins.

Muhammad Wasim, DG Marine Fisheries Department Pakistan; Reza Shahifar, General Director for Conservation and Rehabilitation of Marine Resources, Iran Fisheries Organization; Lioba Struck, Project Manager at NAVAMA UK; Asad Rafi Chandna DG Ministry of Port and Shipping; Michael Osmond, WWF-US; Dr. Ejaz Ahmed, former Senior Director WWF-Pakistan and Abdul Rahim, Assistant Director Environment Gwadar Development Authority also spoke on the occasion.


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