India has asked the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, a global tuna management association, to ensure equity and democratic processes, letting the voices of the smaller countries heard.

India, a smaller player in the global tuna trade, felt that the global body must facilitate a level playing field, allowing the smaller players to tap the potential. Despite a huge coastline and the exclusive economic zones in the seas, the country is yet to tap the tuna opportunity.

IOTC meet

Addressing the 23rd session of the IOTC being held here, Rajni Sekhri Sibal, Secretary (Fisheries), Government of India, said it would be tough for developing countries to compete with big players. Their tuna fishing ships are almost like floating factories, which process and pack the catch inhouse.

The tuna and tuna-like species had a global market size of $11.38 billion in 2017. “This is projected to grow to $13.75 billion by 2023, with a compounded annual growth rate of 3.2 per cent,” she said.

The session, which began here on June 9, will conclude on June 21.

The IOTC, which has 31 countries as members, discusses the issues and the proposals made by member countries and other stakeholders.

Overfishing alleged

Environmental activists and organisations such as Blue Marine Foundation that are working in the area have been asking the consumers to shun consumption of yellowfin tuna procured from the Indian Ocean. They contend that the tuna species has been overfished and that it is on the brink of collapse.

“Fisheries managers must act to protect Indian Ocean yellowfin. The scientific evidence regarding the status of Indian Ocean yellowfin is well-documented and disconcerting,” the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) has said.

In a statement issued to mark the IOTC conference, it said that the IOTC has the power to adopt management measures that will rebuild this stock.