The Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam discuss yellowfin tuna stocks and options for cross-border fishery management

Posted on 27 March 2023

Government representatives and experts in fisheries from the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam held a dialogue meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, to discuss their shared yellowfin tuna stock and key issues in transboundary fishery management.
Held 15 - 16 February, the meeting builds upon a first dialogue in Manila in August 2022, in which delegations from Indonesia and the Philippines discussed common pathways towards the sustainable management of yellowfin tuna as a highly migratory species. 

“Yellowfin is important for the three countries, especially for the Philippines which is dominated by small-scale fisheries such as tuna handliners handling small boats and operating in archipelagic and internal waters. Although the countries have divergent interests and issues, you can see that our fisheries unite us," said Rafael Ramiscal, Chief of the Capture Fisheries Division (CFD) of the Philippines’ Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

Between the two Coral Triangle countries, tuna is a critical transboundary resource for their economies, particularly the yellowfin. Yellowfin tuna comprised 40% of 186,166 MT of tuna exported in 2020 by the Philippines. For Indonesia, yellowfin accounts for 48% of all tuna catch in the country’s archipelagic waters, representing 14% of the total value of fisheries exports, according to data shared by the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF).

Meanwhile yellowfin tuna became Vietnam’s most important wild-capture export product in 2022, producing nearly 18,000 million tons of caught fish, and contributing to its seafood export revenue valued at USD$1 billion.

In the spirit of increasing collaboration and strengthening regional fishery management, Viet Nam was invited to join this second dialogue, where delegates discussed challenges and best practices.

The issue of overfished fishery stocks was brought forward during the meeting. Reducing juvenile fish catch rates was highlighted as an important goal, as well as preventing Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing activities in the region. 

The meeting also highlighted the need for cross-boundary collaboration to better manage the region’s fisheries, particularly, foryellowfin tuna. Therefore, according to Fayakun Satria, the Director of Indonesia’s Fisheries Research Center (PUSRISKAN), “Although the three countries have different agendas, but as we are in the same region, we can identify similar issues and common positions to be discussed in regular meetings between us. For instance, as we already have a regional harvest strategy for Skipjack and its target reference points, so maybe we can start with the yellowfin tuna discussion by identifying which areas we can communicate”.

The delegates also expressed their solidarity in conserving their shared fishery resources. The Indonesian, Philippine and Vietnamese delegates agreed to communicate best practices among one another, and proposed future meetings to further discuss fishery issues.

“There are benefits to open dialogue and collaboration between countries that face similar challenges and have common experiences or goals,” added Dr. Hai Duyen Vu, Deputy Director of the Capture Fisheries Department in Viet Nam’s Directorate of Fisheries (DFISH).
WWF Coordinator for the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Bubba Cook expresses the need for coordination and cooperation in addressing fishery management in the Western and Central Pacific.
Lilis Sadiyah, a researcher from Indonesia’s national research and innovation agency (BRIN) expressed the need for deeper regional understanding of the processes of stock assessment in the WCPO.
Rafael Ramiscal from the Philippines and Dr Hai Duyen Vu from Viet Nam share a fist bump as delegates from all three countries expressed their commitment to explore joint management of their shared fishery resources.