Beyond the Tuna Trap: Coastal States and the possibility of a new future for tuna

Tuna management is largely undertaken by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) whose management areas extend across 91 percent of the world’s ocean surface. Tuna stocks are fished by dozens of countries simultaneously, with a significant amount coming from the high seas but with many RFMOs and key stocks overlapping with the Exclusive Economic Zones of many coastal States. Despite scientists’ warnings, RFMOs have failed to effectively prevent increases in the number and size of fishing vessels, speeding up the race toward overfishing, and making it virtually impossible for overfished populations to recover. While Atlantic bluefin tuna is often cited as the primary example of mismanagement, five of the eight species of tuna are in the Endangered, Threatened or Near Threatened IUCN Red List Categories according to a 2011 assessment. Are we in a Tuna Trap? Is this, as some believe, the last decade of tuna fishing as we know it? Can the global community ensure a real future for tuna and tuna fisheries?

Bringing together the experiences of tuna RFMOs, the role of Distant Water Fishing Nations, and the emerging voice of developing Coastal States, particularly the small island developing States (SIDS) of the Pacific Ocean, this workshop will explore the systemic causes of tuna declines, the current key players and pressures, and the opportunities for defining new and stronger ocean governance which will ensure a future for tuna fisheries – and those who depend on them. Discussion will be led by a panel of representatives from governments, IUCN, and NGOs, and will include at least one representative from a SIDS.

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