The allocation discussions began in 2011 as a direct response to the state of the key IOTC fish stocks. These stocks were rapidly declining following the historical catches of 2006. Yellowfin tuna was getting close to the over-exploited state. The Commission responded by passing IOTC Res 10/01 For the Conservation and Management of Tropical Tuna Stocks in the IOTC Area of Competence declaring to establish a Technical Committee on Allocation Criteria for developing a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and a quota system of developing alternative measures. The negotiations had a rough start, for it was the first time, in IOTC history that member countries, especially the coastal states realised what was at stake.
The first three meetings, in Nairobi, Muscat and Kish Island, made little progress in terms of advancing substantial discussions but debated on a set of Guiding Principles of which a more complete revision was submitted in Kish Island in 2016. Those principles appended as Appendix V of the TCAC03 Report, are given below.
G16 GROUP OF LIKE-MINDED COASTAL STATES OF THE INDIAN OCEAN ON GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR ALLOCATION CRITERIA
Submitted by Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Pakistan, Seychelles, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Tanzania without prejudice to the further development of positions individually or collectively.
Principles of Allocation
- Sustainability to be achieved through appropriate overall limits on each stock in accordance with agreed TRPs and Harvest Control Rules. Any allocation system must support sustainability by ensuring compliance with overall catch limits.
- Upfront allocations or mechanisms to reallocate over time must be inbuilt in order to ensure opportunities for development and leveraging livelihoods and food security aspirations of small, vulnerable economies and developing coastal states and small Islands and those with large fleets of subsistence vessels.
- Consistent with the sovereign rights of coastal states, their catch must be based on the level of resources and fishing opportunities of each relevant IOTC fish species in their Exclusive Economic Zone.
- Consistent with the sovereign rights of coastal states, where catch history in EEZs is used, it must be solely attributable to the coastal state, regardless of the flag of the fishing vessel(s).
- Allocation in respect of high seas opportunities must facilitate increased participation by IOTC developing coastal states.
The IOTC Secretariat is requested to conduct a review of all available catch history in the IOTC area. The purpose of such a review is to collate information on a spatial and temporal basis (individual EEZs and high seas areas over time).
There was no progress in the first three TCAC meetings in terms of delivering any proposal. The Maldives, in 2017 took the initiative of developing a proposal on Allocation of Fishing Opportunities for IOTC Species. The first such meeting was held in the Maldives, February 2017. A second meeting to revise the first draft proposal was held, also in the Maldives, in April 2017. The revised draft proposal was submitted to the 21st Session of the Commission meeting, held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in May 2017. Initially blocked by the European Union to be presented to the plenary, the proposal was met with great resistance from the Distant Water Fishing Nations. However, members agreed to provide written comments after the meeting.
The proposal was revised in G16 meeting and was again submitted to the 22nd Session and also at the most recent 23rd Session of the Commission held in Hyderabad, India. Below gives links the to the various versions of the proposal as posted on the IOTC website, and to the most recent revision updated in G16 meeting held in Muscat, Oman in January 2019.
- Draft Proposal on Allocation of Fishing Opportunities for IOTC Species, Submitted to 21st Session of the IOTC, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
- Draft Proposal on Allocation of Fishing Opportunities for IOTC Species, Submitted to 22st Session of the IOTC, Bangkok, Thailand.
- Draft Proposal on Allocation of Fishing Opportunities for IOTC Species, Submitted to 23st Session of the IOTC, Hyderabad, India
- Draft Proposal on Allocation of Fishing Opportunities for IOTC Species, Submitted to 21st Session of the IOTC, Bangkok, Thailand [The meeting was cancelled due to the Covid 19 pandemic]