Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), one of the most profitable fisheries in the world, is just a few years away from collapse. A meeting that began June 7 will be crucial in deciding its fate. Exploitative industrial fishing practiced over decades by the EU, and increasingly important artisanal fisheries in coastal states have decimated the population. There is consensus among members of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), the intergovernmental body charged with managing the stock, that overfishing must stop. But sharp divisions persist on how steep the cuts should be and who should be making them. It has pitted a group of distant-water fishing nations, led by the EU, which hauls in the largest share of the fish, backed by South Korea and Japan, against Indian Ocean states like the Maldives, Kenya and South Africa. A rebuilding plan introduced by the IOTC in 2016 did not stop overfishing. Total catches actually increased between 2017 and 2019. The Maldives’ proposal for an update submitted in May received the backing of environmental NGOs like U.S.-based WWF and the U.K.-headquartered Blue Marine Foundation this month. The EU has also put forth a proposal in the run-up to the weeklong virtual meeting. “We recognize that the Maldivian proposal is more ambitious and equitable than the proposal tabled by the E.U.,” a dozen NGOs said in a statement, adding that “further catch reductions will be required to achieve stock rebuilding within two generations.” In 2019, the total yellowfin tuna catch stood at 427,240…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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