UN Calls for Sustainable Conservation and Management on First World Tuna Day
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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On the first World Tuna Day, UN leaders called for the conservation and sustainable use of tuna resources and their surrounding ecosystems, underscoring their importance for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Pacific small island developing States (SIDS) called for improvements to tuna management through: empowering island nations to manage their own marine resources; ensuring artisanal and traditional fishers can access a fair share of the catch; ending economic subsidies that promote overfishing; and addressing illegal, unreported and regulated (IUU) fishing.

2 May 2017: On the first World Tuna Day, UN leaders called for the conservation and sustainable use of tuna resources and their surrounding ecosystems, underscoring their importance for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Day recognized the role of tuna in sustainable development, food security and nutrition, local livelihoods and economic development.

Several UN entities highlighted the importance of sustainable marine management to restore overfished stocks. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP or UN Environment) urged conservation management to prevent tuna stocks from crashing. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) stressed a need for effective fisheries management to restore overfished stocks, including tuna. The UN Legal Counsel called for implementing the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the UN Fish Stocks Agreements and recommendations of its Review Conference, and annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions on sustainable fisheries.

On Pacific small island developing States (SIDS), Ambassador Marlene Moses, Permanent Representative of Nauru to the UN and Chair of PSIDS, highlighted the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), which controls the number of fishing days in the region, implements minimum net-size regulations, and increases enforcement through a vessel monitoring system (VMS), a regional fishing register and penalties for targeting sharks, seabirds and turtles. Ambassador Moses said Pacific SIDS are calling for improvements to tuna management through: empowering island nations to manage their own marine resources; ensuring artisanal and traditional fishers can access a fair share of the catch; ending economic subsidies that promote overfishing; and addressing illegal, unreported and regulated (IUU) fishing, including by requiring certification of tuna exports. UNGA President Peter Thomson also highlighted the role of Pacific SIDS and least developed countries (LDCs) in fisheries management, observing that nearly two-thirds of tuna in restaurants and supermarkets comes from the Pacific ocean.

On the UN Ocean Conference, Thomson said the Conference represents an “opportunity to highlight the importance of reversing the decline in the health of the Ocean to ensure sustainable management of marine life, such as tuna.” He called on governments, businesses and civil society organizations to take action to support the conservation and sustainable management of ocean resources, including by registering voluntary commitments on the Conference website.

“It is possible to fish tuna sustainably.”

On the sustainable production and consumption of tuna, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) CEO Rupert Howes said the SDGs, particularly SDG 14 (Life below water), have the potential “to galvanize support and action to accelerate the transformation we need” to end overfishing and deliver sustainable, resilient fisheries. In an interview with the UN Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC), Howes said nine tuna fisheries are certified, illustrating that “it is possible to fish tuna sustainably.”

According to the UN, highly migratory tuna species account for 20% of the value of all marine capture fisheries and over 8% of all internationally traded seafood. More than 80 States have tuna fisheries and thousands of tuna fishing vessels operate in oceans across the world. FAO’s ‘The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture’ (SOFIA) finds significant overcapacity of tuna fishing fleets and high demand for tuna.

Also on fisheries, the FAO has released several resources, including the ‘Information System of the Global Record of Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated Transport Vessels and Supply Vessels,’ which is an online repository of vessels involved in fishing operations. The information system aims to provide a single access point of information to combat IUU fishing. FAO also released a ‘Handbook for fisheries socio-economic sample survey’ that aims to support those planning, coordinating and supervising fisheries survey data collection processes. [UN Press Release] [UNEP News] [UNGA President Statement] [PSIDS Chair Statement] [UNRIC Press Release] [FAO Press Release on Online Information System] [Handbook for fisheries socio-economic sample survey]


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