The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission

The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) is an intergovernmental organisation responsible for the management of tuna and tuna-like species – including sharks and rays - in the Indian Ocean.

The IOTC Convention Area stretches from the tip of South African to the base of Australia’s east coast, and south to the Antarctic Convergence. The 29 Contracting Parties – coastal states and distant water fleets including the EU and the UK – to IOTC include some of the most active shark fishing nations including Indonesia, India and Taiwan, as well as the EU.

The Indian Ocean is home to a wide diversity of sharks and rays.

Why extend the Shark Trust’s engagement into the Indian Ocean?

The Shark Trust has followed IOTC for a number of years, partnering with other Shark League colleagues. From this year we’re now formal Observers, meaning we can engage more effectively and directly with meetings, and the IOTC Parties.

While IOTC Parties have prohibited retention of several species including Oceanic Whitetip, Threshers, Whale Sharks and Mobulid Rays, the Resolutions have some exceptions and bycatch mitigation can be improved. There is a need to reduce mortality to enable the populations of these species to recover.  Bycatch mitigation measures can also serve as stop-gap safeguards for other highly vulnerable species that remain unprotected in the region, such as Shortfin Makos, Hammerheads, and Silky Sharks. 

The 28th Session of IOTC presents a critical opportunity to consolidate and strengthen safeguards for many of the region’s exceptionally vulnerable shark species. Immediate action – based on science and the precautionary approach – is long overdue and urgently warranted to reverse population declines and ensure sustainability over the long term. Significant progress can be made at the 2024 Commission meeting to address priority needs. To strengthen the finning ban, establish catch limits, mitigate bycatch, assess populations, and improve catch reporting.

Click on the Factsheet below for more information