Sixth Tuna Management Workshop Takes Best Practices to West Africa Through Two Days of Hands-on Trainings

Over 40 tuna experts come together in Dakar, Senegal to improve understanding of sustainable tuna management strategies through games, simulation, and lecture.

This week, members from Atlantic Ocean coastal states gathered in Dakar, Senegal to work towards more sustainable tuna fisheries management. The two-day workshop consisted of training, games, lectures, and discussions which encouraged participants to develop a better understanding of a precautionary approach to managing Atlantic Ocean tuna fisheries.

With members of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) as the key audience—ICCAT is the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMO) which manages Atlantic Ocean tunas—the hands-on training provided practical advice on ways managers can improve management by the development and implementation of harvest strategies.

And the workshop couldn't come at a better time. A recently released report co-authored by independent scientists and published by the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) shows that, of the 19 stocks of tropical and temperate tunas, only six achieved a passing score according to the criteria for the Marine Stewardship Council, due mostly to the lack of well-defined harvest control rules in place.

"Tuna fisheries have significant biological, economic, and cultural value, so it is of concern that stocks are not being managed using robust precautionary approaches," says Alejandro Anganuzzi of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN-FAO). "By implementing harvest strategies that have been properly tested, tuna RFMOs can work towards improving the sustainability of their fisheries."

Harvest strategies are management frameworks that have been used to successfully implement the precautionary approach. Management strategy evaluation (MSE) is a process by which the performance of different harvest strategies under various conditions is evaluated through computer simulations, in order to find the strategy that best fulfills management objectives.

Participants were trained on these concepts, among others, by leading experts on international tuna management. Following the lectures, participants worked in small groups to discuss key concepts, map hypothetical strategies, and pilot MSE tools, such as the online MSE modeling application which was developed for the workshop series.

"We were able to develop a real understanding of how these approaches can be applied to better manage Atlantic Ocean tunas," said Dr. Mamadou Goudiaby, Fisheries Director for Senegal. "And as the local authority on Atlantic Ocean tuna fisheries, we're now in a place to adapt and implement these strategies according to local context."

To date over 240 tuna fishery managers and other experts have had training on the precautionary approach through the workshop series, which is part of the Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project.

"A level playing field of understanding is essential for fisheries managers to meaningfully engage in discussions on science-based sustainable fishery management" says Ocean Outcomes' Daniel Suddaby, who helped develop the content and logistics of the workshop series. "Providing fisheries managers with the resources and tools to promote sustainable fisheries management through these workshops is paramount to the long term viability of tuna stocks."

The Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the UN-FAO, harnesses the efforts of a large and diverse array of partners. Including the five tuna RFMOs, governments, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and private sector, the project works to achieve responsible, efficient and sustainable tuna production and biodiversity conservation in the ABNJ.

See photos of the workshop, organizations involved, and workshop contacts on the Common Oceans website.

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