IOSEA Cooperation with the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)

There is substantial overlap in the respective memberships of IOTC and IOSEA: about two-thirds of IOTC Parties are also Signatories to IOSEA. Many are also Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species, the parent of IOSEA. The respective Secretariats of the IOSEA Marine Turtle MoU and IOTC have developed a good working relationship over many years. As described in more detail below, this has included collaboration in the production of regular status reports on marine turtles, development of turtle ID cards for fishermen in various languages, and co-funding the production of a region-wide Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) in relation to interactions of fishing operations with marine turtles in the IOSEA region.

In 2023, after several years of working towards this, the informal cooperation between the Secretariats was formalized in a Cooperation Agreement.


Workshops to address issues related to bycatch of marine species

The IOTC Secretariat organized a capacity-building workshop in Muscat, Oman, from 18-22 October 2015, in cooperation with the CMS Secretariat, to support implementation of the IOTC’s Regional Observer Scheme (as per IOTC Resolution 11/04). The 5-day workshop provided expert training to facilitate the creation and implementation of observer schemes in Oman, Pakistan and Islamic Republic of Iran, with a specific focus on gillnet fisheries. Robert Baldwin, a member of the IOSEA Advisory Committee, was one of three resource persons designated to provide technical expertise to the workshop. Click to download the workshop report prepared by IOTC. 

In 2022, a multi-taxa workshop focusing on bycatch mitigation in gillnet fisheries in the IOTC region was organized by WWF with support from IOTC and CMS/IOSEA Marine Marine Turtle MOU. Its report can be accessed here.


Collaboration in the production of regular status reports on marine turtles

The IOSEA Secretariat has regularly submitted reports on the status of marine turtles to IOTC, for consideration by its Working Party on Ecosystems and Bycatch (WPEB) and its Scientific Committee (SC). The latest revision of the Executive Summary which was reviewed by the 18th session of the IOTC Scientific Committee (Bali, November 2015) can be downloaded from the meetings section of the IOTC website (Scientific Committee / Documents) or directly by clicking here.

In its meeting report, the IOTC Scientific Committee "noted the substantial amount of revision on the biology and ecology section of the executive summary of Marine Turtles provided to the WPEB and acknowledged the time and expertise provided by the CMS/IOSEA Marine Turtle MoU for this update."

The Committee further noted that "the lack of data from CPCs [IOTC member States] on interactions and mortalities of marine turtles in the Indian Ocean is a substantial concern, resulting in an inability of the WPEB to estimate levels of marine turtle bycatch. There is an urgent need to quantify the effects of fisheries for tuna and tuna-like species in the Indian Ocean on marine turtle species, and it is clear that little progress on obtaining and reporting data on interactions with marine turtles has been made. ... The Committee reiterated its recommendation from 2013 and 2014, that at the next revision of IOTC Resolution 12/04 on the conservation of marine turtles, the measure is strengthened to ensure that, where possible, CPCs report annually on the total estimated level of incidental catches of marine turtles, by species."

Finally the SC report noted, with concern, that "only 9 of the 37 IOTC CPCs have implemented the FAO guidelines to reduce marine turtle mortality in fishing operations (2 more in progress), and two CPCs (European Union, France (OT)) have implemented a full NPOA [National Plan of Action] in 2015".


Co-funding of the production of a region-wide Ecological Risk Assessment for marine turtles of the Indian Ocean

In 2012, the secretariats of the IOSEA Marine Turtle MoU and the IOTC teamed up to co-fund the production of an "Ecological Risk Assessment and Productivity - Susceptibility Analysis of sea turtles overlapping with fisheries in the IOTC region". The study was undertaken by a team led by Dr. Ronel Nel, currently an IOSEA Advisory Committee member. The preliminary results were presented to the 15th Meeting of the IOTC Scientific Committee, held in the Seychelles in December 2012.

Click here to download the full Ecological Risk Assessment and Productivity - Susceptibility Analysis of sea turtles overlapping with fisheries in the IOTC region (7.5 MB PDF).


Development of turtle ID cards for fishermen

In 2011, the IOTC Secretariat developed a set of ‘Marine Turtle Identification Cards’ to be distributed to all long-liners operating in the Indian Ocean. IOSEA provided input to the original content and support for the realisation of further iterations of this project, including translation into Spanish and Bahasa Indonesian. The cards are downloadable from the IOTC website.