April 17, 2023
Project Director, International Fisheries Conservation – The Ocean Foundation
We’re proud to announce the launch of a bold new partnership to promote harvest strategy development and implementation for international tuna fisheries. The Ocean Foundation just signed a 4-year agreement with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to produce a series of educational and outreach materials on harvest strategies. All of those materials will be housed right here on www.harveststrategies.org!
Products will include both print and digital materials, ranging from factsheets to animations, and both technical and non-technical online interactives. These outputs arepart of the considerable expansion to the role of – and resources available on – our website, which we announced in November. We’ll even develop a free, online course on harvest strategies and MSE that can be taken by fisheries managers and scientists for certification through FAO’s eLearning Academy. A quarterly webinar series will round out the offerings, allowing us to dig into timely issues with panels of expert speakers.
We’ve assembled a top-notch advisory board to ensure the project is as constructive and impactful as possible. All are leaders in the field and bring diverse expertise to our team. The seven advisors represent 5 continents and have experience at all 5 tuna RFMOs. We have government diplomats and managers, RFMO Secretariat staff, scientists, and representatives of the fishing industry and environmental organizations. We are incredibly grateful that they have committed to sharing their time and knowledge with the project.
Our harvest strategies project is but one of many funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through FAO’s Common Oceans Tuna project. The overarching, US$15 million initiative aims to ensure that tunas are fished sustainably by 2027. To achieve this lofty goal, the project is mobilizing a global partnership in support of responsible tuna fisheries management and the conservation of biodiversity in ocean areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ, more commonly known as the high seas). Harvest strategies are a major part of that, alongside other new projects that will expand the use of the ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM), bycatch mitigation strategies, electronic monitoring, and catch document systems (CDS). Other efforts will work to improve compliance processes and shark management at the tuna RFMOs and to reduce marine debris stemming from fishing gear. Importantly, the overall project also seeks to improve gender equity in fisheries. These projects will build on the successful, US$50 million first phase of the program, which began in 2014.
There are 29 tuna and swordfish stocks globally. Only seven of them have harvest strategies in place, with only four of those fully implemented. There are an additional 16 stocks with harvest strategies in development. Our goal through this project is to move more of those 29 stocks into the fully implemented column between now and our December 2026 end date. Stay tuned here to track our progress!