New report: Moving Tuna – Transhipment in the Western Indian Ocean

By Stop Illegal Fishing:23rd Sep, 2020: FISH-i Africa

The point when catch moves from the fishing vessel and enters the supply chain provides a critical point to monitor and check that it has been caught legally and in compliance with national and regional regulations. In our new report ‘Moving Tuna’ Stop Illegal Fishing looks at the role and scale of transhipment in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) and identifies the risks, costs and benefits involved.

 

In the WIO transhipment takes place in three ways: at sea from a fishing vessel to a carrier, in port for landing, and in port for transit. Of these it is at-sea transhipment that receives most attention globally and is commonly seen as a facilitator of both illegal fishing and modern day slavery. Yet, in the WIO this makes up only 13% of tuna transhipped and under the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) regulations takes place with 100% observer coverage. This makes at-sea transhipment the best-monitored element of the tuna fishery in the WIO.

 

In contrast in-port transhipment for landing and in-port transhipment for transit make up nearly 90% of transhipped tuna and are far less likely to be monitored, if at all. This imbalance in scrutiny and oversight has implications for vulnerable fish stocks and highlights the need to urgently and systematically implement port State measures.

 

A further imbalance is seen in the burden for fisheries protection and monitoring. Today, while flag States pay for monitoring at-sea transhipments, port States pay for monitoring in-port transhipments. With limited capacity and resources and with the tuna often only transiting through port States a significant monitoring gap has developed. These issues need to be addressed to achieve sustainable development goal (SDG) 14.4 to end overfishing and IUU fishing.

 

As blue economy agendas and SDG 14.7 focus to increase the economic benefits to developing countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, becomes more prominent, an understanding of how transhipment brings costs and rewards is required. ‘Moving Tuna’ demonstrates that today, European and Asian interests dominate the purse seine and longline tuna value chain and current opportunities for African coastal States to domesticate and benefit from the industry, to build local supply chains, add value and feed local demand are limited.

 

Elsa Patria, Chairperson Stop Illegal Fishing, commented, ‘’’Moving Tuna’ has been prepared to support fisheries officers, managers and decision makers in the WIO to engage in the global discussion about the future of transhipment. While the study focuses on transhipment, it also reflects other relevant issues for our region: the value and role of port State measures and inspections; the challenge of monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS); the role and risks that observers and crew face; how we share and validate information; and ultimately if we are looking after and benefiting to the maximum from our fishery resources.”

 

Moving Tuna provides three recommendations for transhipment management:

  1. Regional transhipment monitoring – to monitor all at-sea and in-port transhipments from industrial fishing vessels within the same region or fisheries, using independent professionally trained and supervised observers, applying the user pay principle so that fishing vessel owners carry the cost.

 

  1. Comprehensive validation of information – transhipment offers an operational bottleneck for compiling information about the fishing, vessels, catch and crew, but the real benefits come when this information is pooled with other MCS information and regionally validated, to provide a more accurate and complete picture.

 

  1. National incentives attracting transhipment to local ports – including requirements or incentives in blue economy and fisheries development strategies to attract fishing and carrier vessels to tranship in ports near the fishing grounds to reduce pollution and emissions, build long-term business partnerships and to secure a supply of fish to drive African social and economic growth.

 

Dr. Motseki Hlatshwayo, Senior Fisheries Advisor at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said “Moving Tuna provides us with a starting point for re-thinking the management of transhipment in fisheries. It leaves no doubt that we must work together to ensure that our valuable fisheries resources are managed in a manner that promotes sustainability of the resources, and economic and social prosperity for our region. Through the establishment of our SADC Regional MCS Coordination Centre we are developing the foundations for improved crosschecking and validation of fisheries information. This will help to realise the recommendations made in this publication.”

 

Sandy Davies, Stop Illegal Fishing, “As we all turn our attention to possible global guidelines for transhipment, there is an opportunity to do things better. Transhipment is part of a complex supply chain, much of which takes place away from public oversight. As well as ensuring that the fish has been caught legally, fairly and sustainably we need to prevent modern day slavery and improve safety and prevent pollution. We can do this by building strong links between agencies on the ground and between international organisations and treaties.”

 

Moving Tuna is available to download here.

 

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