A press statement released by the Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources, and Agriculture expressed disappointment over lack of support and meaningful outcome for its proposed Yellowfin Tuna rebuilding proposal at Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC).
Maldives tabled a proposal at SS4 of IOTC to make Yellowfin Tuna fishing more sustainable by reducing the catch of yellowfin tuna in the Indian Ocean by at least 15% to that of the 2015 catch levels, which corresponds to a total of 346,438 mt. Moreover, to increase in reduction of yellowfin tuna catches from various gear categories compared to the current conservation and management measure, along with a complete phasing out of supply vessels (Drifting FAD management vessels) in the Indian Ocean by 1st January 2025.
Furthermore, Maldives also proposed to double the catch reduction for the pole and line fishery and the handline fishery of the Maldives, despite Maldives dependence on the tuna fishery for livelihood.
The European Union (EU) tabled a counter-proposal much less ambitious and biased than what Maldives proposed. It called for a total catch reduction of 398,000mt and would have allowed EU flagged vessels to catch 6,000mt more than the 2019 catch levels.
Both proposals were merged and discussed in detail with several revisions and compromises made but the merged proposal was not adopted and was deferred to the Annual Session of the IOTC, which is scheduled to be held in June 2021.
Government stated that it is extremely disappointed that SS4 ended without any significant progress in dealing with this critical issue of the status of yellowfin tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean and lack of political will of other IOTC members to support the proposal. Government also assured that it will push a revised proposal at the next summit in June to make sure the tuna stock is sustainably maintained in the region.