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ISSF Anti-IUU Activities

ISSF’s work is directly related to all three Strategies to combat IUU: Industry and Market Incentives, Transparency and Fisheries management Strategies. Our annual report—Best Practices, Better Solutions—outlines the organization’s goals and achievements in 2016 and highlights ISSF’s ongoing commitment to the continuous improvement of global tuna fisheries through science, collaboration, and advocacy, including on IUU activities.

ISSF Conservation Measures and Compliance Process

Companies that participate in ISSF commit to conservation measures regarding illegal, unreported and/or unregulated fishing:

  • ISSF requires that participating companies maintain a credible traceability scheme that includes a recall mechanism for any product later found to have come from an IUU source. And ISSF’s measure on product labeling states that participating companies will identify (1) all species of tuna and (2) the ocean of capture for tuna contained in a product on all labeling or through a publicly available web-based traceability system, for all branded tuna products. Making this information publicly available strengthens industry transparency.
  • ISSF has adopted conservation measures regarding transshipment, requiring no transshipments by purse seiners at sea, whether high seas, EEZ, territorial seas or archipelagic waters. For purse seine vessels, exemptions will be made in cases where the at-sea transshipments are authorized (as necessary, by all of the following: the vessel’s flag state, the coastal state where the transshipment took place, and the relevant RFMO) and the transshipped catch is adequately sampled per the RFMO science provider. A conservation measure regarding transshipment by longline vessels was recently adopted.

ISSF takes accusations linking our participating companies to illegal, unreported and/or unregulated fishing activities very seriously. That’s why participating companies are subject to regular, and when necessary, cause-related audits under the direction of the Board. Each incident activates a unique Compliance Committee, composed of NGO representatives and industry participants (with no business interest in the incident at issue) advised by outside legal counsel. Our full Compliance Process is available online at You may also review ISSF’s Conservation Measures and Commitments Compliance Report, which was updated in May 2017. 

IMO Database and the ProActive Vessel Register (PVR)

To begin weeding out tuna caught by illegal, unregulated, and/or unreported fishing activities, ISSF has worked with industry to make permanent and unique vessel identifiers—such as IMO numbers—a standard practice. In addition, ISSF established the ProActive Vessel Register, or PVR. The PVR is a database that uses third party auditing—desktop and onsite—to verify that vessels are implementing applicable ISSF Conservation Measures and are committed to a series of improved practices, which we’ve worked with industry, NGOs and scientists to identify.

Advocating for Stronger RFMOs

ISSF works with RFMOs and member governments to strengthen capacity for effective governance, science-based decision-making, enforcement and compliance. ISSF advocates for improved compliance mechanisms within the RFMO system, as a means of ensuring that member states—and, by extension, their fleets—are meeting the obligations they are committed to via their RFMO participation. Greater transparency will promote system effectiveness and contribute to public and market confidence in the sustainable international management of global tuna fisheries.

Strengthening and Harmonizing Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS)

A critical component of ISSF’s work with RFMOs on combatting IUU fishing is establishing and promoting best practices for MCS in tuna fisheries. Our focus there includes:

  • Trials of electronic observer systems aboard tuna purse seine and longline vessels, with lessons learned and best practices disseminated to sub-regional organizations and RFMOs for upscaling, and workshops on electronic monitoring systems in tuna longline fisheries
  • Development and trials of electronic captain’s logbooks for purse seine and longline vessels, in partnership with sub-regional organizations, fleets and RFMO science providers
  • Development and trials of electronic transmission of observer reports in partnership with sub-regional organizations, fleets and RFMO science providers
  • Promoting VMS program best practices to strengthening existing RFMO Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) and assisting in the development of new regional and national VMS programs
  • Promoting observer program best practices to strengthening existing programs and assist in the development of new regional and national observer programs for purse seine vessels
  • Promoting the tightening of transshipment requirements for longliners and purse seiners in RFMOs and the implementation of best practices

ISSF research and study in this area comprise a robust library of resources on MCS topics:

Skippers Workshops

ISSF also sponsors educational workshops for skippers and other vessel stakeholders, where they can problem-solve with ISSF scientists on bycatch, ocean ecosystem, and other issues. Offered at ports worldwide, ISSF workshops to date have reached more than 2,200 participants. ISSF scientists and colleagues publish original marine-science and tuna-fishing research reports on a range of topics; nearly 20 were published in 2016.

Image credit: ISSF: David Itano
Associated website: link
Timeframe: Jan. 01, 2009 -
Project Status: Ongoing
Contact: Susan Jackson
Email: Log in to view
Thematic Focus: Industry and Market Incentives, Governance and Management, Transparency
Geographic Areas: Global
Activity Type: Other
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