Scientists Work Side-by-Side with Crew Aboard Pacific Tuna Vessel to Identify Sustainable Fishing Solutions

By International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, PRNE
Monday, May 9, 2011

Global Coalition Launches Innovative At-Sea Project to Protect Tuna Stocks & Marine Life

MANTA, Ecuador, May 10, 2011 - Fisheries, research scientists and tuna fishers boarded a vessel in
Manta, Ecuador today and will spend the next two months at-sea launching the
next phase of a globally coordinated project to promote effective, practical
techniques to reduce the environmental impact of tuna fishing.

Purse seine vessels, which use large nets to catch fish, provide the
world with millions of tons of tuna every year. When crews use floating
objects that attract fish, called FADs, it makes the method more time and
fuel efficient. But there is one main drawback - by catch, the unintended
capture of marine life. An average of 5% of a vessel's catch can be non-tunas
and sharks. The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) has
called for a significant reduction in this potentially environmentally
damaging waste and has spent more than one year facilitating the detailed
planning of a worldwide project incorporating research, fisher education and
development of new techniques and uses for existing technology.

"The problem and its scope have been identified," said Susan Jackson,
President of ISSF. "Now it's time to get on the water and make significant
improvements alongside industry that help them to remain viable without
jeopardizing the world's tuna resources and the ocean's complex marine

This first cruise - a scientific collaboration between ISSF and the
Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) - will spend two months in
the eastern Pacific Ocean onboard the Yolanda L, a purse seine vessel owned
by Frigorificos Pesqueros Infripesca, and led by Captain Ricardo Diaz. A
workboat carried aboard the Yolanada L to conduct various experiments on
aggregations of tunas associated with FADs will be equipped with a remotely
operated vehicle (ROV), a state of the art echosounder and acoustic tracking
systems. These technologies will be used by scientists to explore and
potentially identify new fishing practices to allow purse seine vessels to
continue harvesting healthy stocks of tunas while reducing the impact on
vulnerable species.

"In reality all fisheries have trade-offs and a certain level of
environmental impact. Some have advocated for abandoning these fisheries, a
move that industry has warned us would cut the world's tuna supply in half,
lead to thousands of job losses and additional financial strain on developing
economies," Jackson said. "Rather than walking away and giving up, we must
help a willing industry improve its practices."

The eastern Pacific Ocean is an important place to start because of the
impact purse seine FAD fishing has on a species of tuna called bigeye. The
region's stock has been struggling to recover from overfishing in recent
years. IATTC Senior Scientist Kurt Schaefer will lead the team aboard the
Yolanda L in trials that have promise to reduce the amount of bigeye caught
in nets. Researchers will also look for ways to prevent the entanglement of
turtles and sharks in FADs by testing different designs made of biodegradable

"This cruise will help our team of scientists and collaborators improve
the educational workshops already being conducted with fishing crews around
the world," said Dr. Victor Restrepo, Chair of the ISSF Scientific Advisory
Committee. "As scientists identify new solutions, we will incorporate the
findings into workshops so that skippers and vessel captains can provide
real-time feedback. If something isn't realistic or fishers have an idea on
how to improve it, we'll have the ability to take the idea back onto the

Workshops have already been held in fishing ports in the Americas,
Africa, Europe and the Pacific Islands region. More are planned in the coming

While the first vessel project will conduct work in the eastern Pacific
Ocean, additional cruises will launch in the western and central Pacific and
Atlantic Oceans over the next year.

About the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF)

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) is a global
coalition of scientists, the tuna industry and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the
world's leading conservation organization, promoting science-based
initiatives for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna
stocks, reducing by catch and promoting ecosystem health. To learn more,
visit their website at

About the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC)

The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) is responsible for
the conservation and management of tuna and tuna-like species and other
species taken by vessels fishing for tuna and tuna-like species in the
eastern Pacific Ocean. The objective of the Commission is to ensure the
long-term conservation and sustainable use of the fish stocks covered by
their Convention, in accordance with the relevant rules of international law.
It was created in 1949 by a Convention between Costa Rica and the United
, amended in 2003 by the Antigua Convention, and today has 20 members
and 2 cooperating non-parties. To learn more, visit

Michael Crispino, +1-703-226-8102, mcrispino at; or Erin Grandstaff, erin at or Kati Rutherford, kati at, both at +1-202-280-6770 / Note to editors: High-resolution images and high-definition video from today's press conference dockside in Manta, Ecuador are available. Additional statistics and scientific resources are also available.

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