FAO and WCPFC sign Execution Agreement for work to mitigate adverse impacts of bycatch in global tuna fisheries
On 25 October 2014, the Fisheries and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission signed an Execution Agreement for a 3.2 million USD package of work designed to mitigate the adverse impacts of bycatch on biodiversity in global tuna fisheries. This work, which will run through early 2019, is being conducted under FAO’s Global Environment Facility-funded Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) Tuna Project. It represents a partnership of 19 international, regional and civil society-based organizations including all five of the tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations.
Early in the project’s formulation WCPFC offered to lead the ABNJ Tuna Project’s work on sharks and bycatch mitigation, sensing a strong regional interest in these issues. As a result, WCPFC and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) have agreed to collaborate on data improvements and development of assessment methods leading to integrated and consistent management plans for sharks on both sides of the Pacific. In addition, WCPFC will continue its partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) to develop the Bycatch Mitigation Information System (http://www.wcpfc.int/bmis/methods ) as a global portal for mitigation techniques and data on sharks, sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals.
WCPFC has recruited Dr Shelley Clarke to join the Secretariat staff as a full-time coordinator for the ABNJ shark and bycatch work. Dr Clarke has an extensive record of research on international shark fisheries and the shark fin trade, and has already begun liaising with the other four tuna RFMOs on various projects. She recently produced papers on the new CITES Appendix II listings for sharks for the WCPFC (http://www.wcpfc.int/node/18991 ) and the IOTC (http://www.iotc.org/documents/issues-t-rfmos-relation-listing-shark-and-ray-species-cites-particular-reference-indian ), in addition to kickstarting WCPFC’s ABNJ project plans and processes. In the next few weeks FAO will publish her global review of status and mitigation measures for bycatch in longline fisheries prepared in collaboration with ABNJ partners Birdlife International and the National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries (Japan). Members are encouraged to contact Dr Clarke about bycatch issues at any time (firstname.lastname@example.org ) and are invited to participate in an ABNJ Tuna Project-Sharks and Bycatch Consultative Committee to be held in the margins of the WCPFC Annual Meeting.