Eighteenth Session of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will be held in Colombo from 01st to 05th June 2014. This is the second time Sri Lanka is hosting the event, the first being in 2011.
IOTC is an intergovernmental organization established under Article 14 of the FAO constitution. It is mandated to manage tuna and tuna-like species in the Indian Ocean.
The meeting will be attended by over 250 delegates and observers from over 40 countries in the Indian Ocean Region and beyond. Representatives from major distant water fishing nations such as EU, Japan, Korea, France, Taiwan, and China will also attend the meeting.
The objective of the commission is to promote cooperation among its members with a view to ensuring, through appropriate management, the conservation and optimum utilization of tuna stocks and encouraging sustainable development of fisheries based on them.
Membership of IOTC is open to Indian Ocean coastal countries and to countries or regional economic integration organizations which are members of the United Nations, or one of its specialized agencies and are fishing for tuna in the Indian Ocean.
Current Membership of 31 includes Australia, Belize, China, Comoros, Eritrea, European Community, France, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, United Kingdom, Vanuatu and Yemen. Cooperating non-contracting parties which have no voting right include Senegal, South Africa and Uruguay.
According to the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Development, Sri Lanka has been actively involved in the tuna resource management for over half a century, from the time of the Establishment of the Indian Ocean Fishery Commission (IOFC) for the Management of Indian Ocean Tuna in 1968.
Sri Lanka further strengthened its involvement in tuna management and scientific data collection with the shifting of the Indo-Pacific Tuna Project (IPTP) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) from the Philippines to Colombo in 1982.
Sri Lanka hosted the project, with the project office located in the building of the National Aquatic Resources Agency (NARA), until it was wound up in 1990. Sri Lanka joined IOTC soon after the Draft Agreement for the establishment of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission was adopted by FAO in 1993, thus becoming a founder member of IOTC by joining it in 1994.