Commercial Fishing Effects on the Fish Population

Back to Home

Managing the Commercial Fishing Effects on Tuna Populations

Commercial fishing is responsible for harvesting large amounts of fish, including tuna, every year in order to provide a reliable food source to consumers around the world. Concerns about the effect that commercial fishing has on tuna stocks have given light to questions surrounding tuna sustainability. With responsible fishing practices and adherence to sustainability measures, global tuna stocks are able to remain abundant for future generations. Here’s how.
The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) is a global organization composed of leading scientists, members of the tuna industry, and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world’s leading conservation organization. As a whole, the ISSF focuses on promoting science-based initiatives for the long-term health of tuna stocks, reducing bycatch, and promoting ecosystem health.
Since the ISSF was formed in 2009, the global foundation has worked to create strong principles of governance that reflect the focus on sustainable use of tuna stocks. Some of these principles include the following:
  • working with Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) to achieve common objectives in the conservation of tuna stocks and the preservation of marine ecosystems (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 2011).
  • using science-based initiatives and data collected and exchanged with RFMOs for the purposes of determining the maximum sustainable yields of targeted tuna stocks,
  • facilitating the use of a precautionary approach
  • striving to eliminate all illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) tuna catching
  • minimizing bycatch, discards and abandoned gear
  • supporting certification programs to meet eco-labeling guidelines  (ISSF, 2014).

Efforts to Eradicate IUU Fishing

A major obstacle in the successful management of global tuna stocks and the determination of sustainable catch levels continues to be IUU fishing vessels. The ISSF and RFMOs rely on accurate catch data from registered fishing vessels in order to effectively manage tuna stocks. IUU fishing vessels cannot be monitored and the unscrupulous activities of these vessel operators create inconsistencies in data which impede the efforts of the ISSF and RFMOs. Vessels engaged in IUU activity behave as though they are under no obligation either legally or environmentally to follow sustainability measures.
In its efforts to effectively combat IUU fishing, the ISSF has implemented policies which require its members to only deal with fishing vessels that employ traceable and transparent tuna fishing practices. To demonstrate legality and efforts towards tuna sustainability, vessel owners are required to adopt ISSF’s ProActive Vessel Register (PVR), which focuses on vessel compliance with a science-based commitment aimed at creating a more sustainable fishing practice (Miguel Jorge, 2014).

Reducing Bycatch

The overall sustainability of commercial tuna fishing has been improving, but more work remains to be done.  Since 2011, ISSF’s Bycatch Project has conducted globally coordinated cruises with fishing vessels and scientists to gain input to identify improvements within the tuna purse seine fisheries, focused on reducing the environmental impact of fishing for tuna with FADs. The researchers’ findings are used in skipper workshops, globally, resulting in identifying the best practices, new techniques, and enhanced technologies to minimize bycatch on FADs, thus improving tuna fisheries  (Patterson, 2014). Important findings on fishing practices, such as the use of non-entangling nets, have already been implemented by tuna fishermen to further minimize the effects of purse seine fishing on FADS to shark and turtle populations. 

Works Cited

Fisheries and Oceans Canada. (2011, September 3). Regional Fisheries Management Organizations. Retrieved October 10, 2014, from Fisheries and Oceans Canada:

ISSF. (2014). Our Story. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from International Seafood Sustainability Foundation:

Miguel Jorge. (2014, July 2). ISSF: A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO ENDING IUU. Retrieved October 15, 2014, from ISSF:


Powered by RWARDZ