YELLOWFIN TUNA: A SPECIES NEARING FREEFALL

Posted on 02 August 2023

YELLOWFIN TUNA: A SPECIES NEARING FREEFALL
The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) declared yellowtail tuna overfished in the region in 2015. Since then, efforts by the commission to implement catch limits and rebuild yellowfin tuna stocks have proven ineffective.

This is partly due to the IOTC’s rules of engagement. All IOTC members are given the option to object to resolutions they disagree with, even when these are based on the best available data. This mechanism is important for ensuring a spirit of cross-border collaboration and fairness, but in practice it results in political will being privileged over scientific evidence.

In recent years, IOTC members have more than once used objections to spuriously opt out of resolutions based on IOTC Scientific Committee recommendations. One such resolution is Resolution 21/01, which entered into force in December 2021 despite objections from six members. This resolution specifies the total allowable catch for members that the objecting countries—India, Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Madagascar, Oman and Somalia—have effectively opted out of.