Search this Site
powered by Google
  • Home
  • About ISC
  • Rules and Procedures

Rules and Procedures


The International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (ISC) was established in 1995 for the purpose of enhancing scientific research and cooperation for conservation and rational utilization of tuna and tuna-like species (HMS) of the North Pacific Ocean, and to establish the scientific groundwork, if at some point in the future it is decided to create a multilateral regime for the conservation and rational utilization of the HMS species in the North Pacific Ocean.

The Committee consists of representatives with suitable scientific and fisheries qualifications. Current Members shall review the eligibility of prospective Members and permanent Observers before admission. Each Member and Observer shallhave the right to appoint one representative (Leader), an alternate, if desired, and to beaccompanied by experts or advisors with suitable scientific and fisheries qualifications toparticipate on the Committee. The Leaders are the main source of contact for ISC communications.
A Chairperson shall be elected by Members of the Committee. The Chairperson serves as the leader of the Committee and is responsible for advancing the objectives of the ISC in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Responsibilities include chairing meetings of the Committee and supervising the work of subsidiary bodies, organizing meetings of the Committee, ensuring that ISC assignments and commitments are completed in a timely, efficient manner, and coordinates activities with the Chairpersons of subsidiary bodies. Additional duties with respect to preparations for meetings include: (1) distribute a draft meeting agenda 90 days in advance and soliciting comments, (2) coordinate arrangements, (3) ensure that reports of subsidiary bodies and results of assignments are available on a timely basis, (4) appoint and distribute a list of proposed invited experts for approval by Members in advance of the meeting (see C6), (5) appoint rapporteurs, and (6) perform other matters that are required for smooth preparation and functioning of a meeting. In conducting meetings, the Chairperson shall strive for consensus of all Members in Committee decisions, conclusions and findings.
  1. Nominees for Chairperson are from Members attending the meeting.
  2. The Chairperson is elected by secret ballot, one vote per Member and by majority vote of Members attending the meeting. The first round of an election will consist of each voting Member having the opportunity to submit one nominee's name on a secret ballot. If the same name appears on a majority of ballots submitted, that candidate shall be declared the elected Chairperson. If no majority of nominee appears on the ballots, the two nominees receiving the most votes would be the candidates for the second round. Members would vote for one of the candidates in the second round and the candidate receiving the majority of votes submitted shall be declared the elected Chairperson. If a tie vote results, a third round of voting between the two nominees shall be held in order to secure a candidate with majority votes.
  3. The Chairperson serves for a term of three years and is eligible for re-election for one additional three-year term.
Vice Chairperson.
A Vice Chairperson shall be elected by members of the Committee. In the absence of the Chairperson, the Vice Chairperson assumes all duties and responsibilities of the Chairperson.
  1. The runner-up candidate in the second or third round of the election for Chairperson shall be declared the elected Vice Chairperson. If only one nominee results from the first round of the election for Chairperson, the Chairperson election process shall be applied to elect a Vice Chairperson
  2. The Vice Chairperson serves for a term of three years and is eligible for reelection for additional terms.
Reports of findings, decisions and conclusions are prepared by the Committee for the record and for distribution. In adopting a report, the Committee strives for consensus of all Members; however, if reasonable efforts fail to reach a consensus, reports and findings may reflect opinions and the differing views.
Exchange of fisheries and biological data.
Timely exchange of complete and accurate fisheries and biological data are primary obligations of participants of the ISC. Each Member and Observer of the Committee shall appoint a Data Correspondent, who shall be responsible for meeting all requirements for timely submission of complete and accurate data as specified by the Data Protocol of the ISC (Attachment).
Invited experts.
Scientific and fisheries experts, who are not Members of the Committee may be invited to participate in the deliberations or work of the Committee. Decision on inviting experts, nominated by Members, shall be made by consensus of Members of the Committee. The Chairperson will be responsible for preparing the list of nominees, nominated by Members no later than 90 days before the event, and immediately distribute to Members for approval. If no objections are received by 45 days of the event, the Chairperson shall issue invitations to approved nominees. The manner of invited experts' participation shall be decided by the Members. Invited experts are not eligible to vote on ISC matters.
Subsidiary bodies.
The Committee may establish subsidiary bodies, including Working Groups, which may meet in the interim between Committee meetings, or more frequently, and report to the Committee.
Frequency of meetings.
The Committee shall meet once every two years or more frequently if required and agreed to by the Members. The time and place of meetings shall be decided by the Members. The working language of all meetings will be English and for the plenary sessions of Committee meetings only, with formal interpretation into Japanese.
Peer review of function.
Every five years, or more frequently as may be decided, the Committee shall organize a team of three recognized peers with no Committee affiliation, to review the function of the Committee and subsidiary bodies and to offer recommendations for improvement.
Other procedures.
The Committee will establish by consensus other procedures as required for conduct of activities. It can be dissolved by consensus of Members.

Working Groups

In 1996, the ISC Committee established three species Working Groups (Bigeye Tuna Working Group, Pacific Bluefin Tuna Working Group and Swordfish Working Group) and a Statistical Working Group. A fourth species Working Group, the Marlin Working Group, was created in 1999. In 2004, the Bigeye Tuna Working Group was dissolved and a By-Catch Working Group was created. These Working Groups are subsidiary bodies of the Committee and report to the Committee. Each provide a forum for cooperation/collaboration in research by Member and Observer scientists as well as for focused consideration of technical matters assigned by the Committee. The species Working Groups' primarily focus is on understanding the dynamics and ecology of the HMS and associated-species populations in order to accurately assess stock condition and status. The Statistical Working Group focuses on collection, exchange and archiving of fishery, biological and other data needed for stock assessments and for monitoring fishery developments and by-catch. The work of these Working Groups is guided by multi-year work plans and demands by the Committee.

Working Groups shall be constituted of scientists with appropriate credentials and experience. They are appointed by Members and Observers of the Committee.
A Chairperson with appropriate expertise and knowledge is to be chosen by members of each Working Group.
  1. The Working Group Chairpersons are responsible for chairing meetings of the Working Groups, facilitating the development of multi-year work plans and coordinating work plan assignments, organizing meetings, including advanced preparation of agendas, scheduling of presenters, appointing of rapporteurs, providing assignments for reports, and ensuring that Committee assignments are completed as required. The Chairpersons also serves as facilitators of views, to ensure that participants with differing views get an opportunity to be heard. They strive for consensus of all members in reporting of Working Group findings, conclusions and decisions to the Committee.
  2. The Chairperson serves a three-year term and may be reappointed for an additional three-year term, but not for more than two consecutive terms.
Frequency of meetings.
Time and place of Working Group meetings are decided in consultation with the Committee. In general, Working Groups meet between Committee meetings, or more frequently as needed to complete assignments and with a view to reporting findings and results to the Committee in a timely manner.
Invited experts.
Occasionally, a Working Group may have a need for special expertise to assist in assignments or may receive requests for participation from experts. On such occasions, the Working Group Chairperson is responsible for following Rule C6 and consulting with the Committee Chairperson.
Format for species Working Group reports.
The focus of species Working Groups is largely understanding the population dynamics of the concerned species in order to accurately assess stock condition. Sufficient understanding for conducting a stock assessment may not accumulate on a regular, predictable schedule for conducting a stock assessment on a regular basis. Species Working Group findings, therefore, may be progress reports for stretches of time before a "current" stock assessment is available. To maintain consistency among reports of species Working Groups and from one year to the next, the following is an outline for Working Group reports destined for submission to the Committee. This outline may be modified by the Committee to meet changing assignments.
  1. Introduction.
  2. Review of Recent Fisheries (Description of recent developments and issues of fisheries.)
  3. Fishery Statistics (Presentation of fishing area by gear, time series of landings or catches, catch-effort or CPUE trends, size composition and other biological statistics, e.g., sex ratio and by-catch.)
  4. Review of Biological Studies (Research results from biological working papers and summary of comments by participants.)
  5. Review of Stock Assessment Studies (Research results from stock assessment working papers and summary of discussion.)
  6. Current Stock Status (If results of stock assessment studies provide a basis for an overall assessment of stock condition, conclusions on current stock condition, including relative to conventional acceptable biological reference points and uncertainty should be provided.)
  7. Special Assignments. (Advice on assignments from the Committee, including scientific advice on potential biological consequences of fisheries management actions and natural events.)
  8. Research Recommendations and Updated Work Plan (Recommendations should be reported by category, statistics, biological studies and stock assessment and focused for advancing understanding of the resource, particularly for more accurate stock assessments.)
  9. Administrative Matters (A catch-all section for time and place for next meeting, acknowledgments, and discussion of other administrative matters.)
  10. Adjournment.

Findings, conclusions, and decisions of Working Groups are to be agreed by consensus; however, if reasonable efforts are made and fail to yield consensus, reports and findings may reflect opinions and the differing views. A research plan that would resolve or clarify the different views might also be proposed.

Format for the Statistical Working Group report.
The main focus of the Statistical Working Group is the collection of accurate fishery statistics, biological and other data in support of stock assessment research, and to coordinate timely exchange and reporting of those data. As such, Data Correspondents should serve on this Working Group. The following is an outline for reports of the Statistical Working Group:
  1. Introduction.
  2. Review of Data Requirements for Stock Assessment and Fishery Monitoring.
  3. Review of Data Collected by Participants.
  4. Updating of Data Inventory and Depository.
  5. Review of Data Reporting Protocol (reporting schedule, data access and availability, data correspondence).
  6. Conclusions, Recommendations and Updated Work Plan.
  7. Administrative Matters.
  8. Adjournment.

Data Reporting and Exchange Requirements and Protocol

Data Reporting and Exchange

The minimum data required for ISC fishery monitoring and resource assessment fall into three categories:

  • Category I: total annual catch (round weight by species) total annual effort (active vessels by fishery)
  • Category II: catch-effort (summary of logbook data)
  • Category III: biological data, (size composition, length or weight frequencies, sex information).

CATEGORY I (Total annual catch and total annual effort):

Total annual catch in metric tons (round weight) should be reported by gear, species and country for fisheries in the North Pacific (north of the equator). When established, data should be reported by subarea (see Section 2). If round weight is estimated from processed weight, the conversion procedure is to be noted. Total nominal effort in numbers of active vessels fishing should be reported by fishery, gear and size category for fisheries in the North Pacific. As with catch, reporting should be done by subarea of the North Pacific. However, if effort cannot be reported by subarea or even for the North Pacific, effort should be reported for a larger area and noted. Vessel size categories to be used in reporting effort are:

Vessels Size Category
Longline 1. Distant-water and 2. offshore (Chinese-Taipei)
1. Distant-water, 2. offshore, and 3. coastal (Japan)
Purse seine 1. large (>260 cubic meter capacity; ~300 mt)
2. small (<260 cubic meter capacity; ~300 mt)
1. distant-water and 2. offshore (Japan)
Harpo Troll, gill net, etc. aggregated by type

CATEGORY II (Catch-effort):

Catch and effort (logbook) data should be reported by country, gear type, and month. The resolution is as follows:

Gear Effort Region
Longline 5x5 deg. no. or wt.hooks
(all species recorded)
entire Pacific
Purse seine 1x1 deg.* no. fishing days
(include searching)
entire Pacific
Troll 1x1 deg. no. fishing days
(include searching)
North Pacific
Gill net 1x1 deg. no. tans or net-days North Pacific
Harpoon 1x1 deg. no. fishing days North Pacific
Handline 1x1 deg. no. lines North Pacific
Pole and line 1x1 deg. no. poles/successful days North Pacific
Other 1x1 deg. no. or wt. as needed North Pacific

*5x5 degree data if 1x1 notpracticable

CATEGORY III (Biological data):

Size composition (length or weight frequencies) and sex data (for swordfish, striped and blue marlins) should be reported by gear type and with the same area resolution as required for Category II data. However, coarser area resolution may be substituted if this requirement can not be applied. Reporting of length-frequencies should be with intervals of 1 or 2 cm. After standard measurements are established (see Section 2, above), both standard measurement and the actual sampling measurement unit should be reported. All size composition data should include notes on collection method, e.g. port sampled, observer sampled, fisherman sampled, etc. Accuracy of measurement should also be reported (e.g. to the nearest cm, next larger cm, nearest kg, etc.).

Data Access and Availability

The participants agreed that some extracts from ISC database, that do not contain proprietary information, should be made available to the general public. Category I data aggregated over the entire North Pacific will be considered public domain (PD) data. The PD data will include the caveat that some discards are not reported in the catch statistics provided. Data provided for use and held by the ISC in whatever form remains the property of the individual contributors 1. Release of these data to the general public may be governed by policies of the contributor.

However, raw Category I data as well as Category II and Category III data contain proprietary information and, therefore, shall be made available to contributors only and to scientists of ISC working groups. Japan will be responsible for managing the central data depository and will designate a control person. When a request for non-PD data is received from a member of the general public, the data manager will notify and seek approval and conditions from the contributors of the specific data requested prior to release. A record of all requests received from the general public and the disposition of the request will be maintained and reported at each meeting of the ISC Plenary.

Requests for non-PD data by contributors for purposes other than ISC stock assessment activities will be handled by the control person, following the same procedures delineated in the previous paragraph.

While there is consensus among all contributors regarding the data access rules, outlined above, there is concern that these rules may be changed at some point in the future without the consent of all contributors. It was recommended that the rules not be changed without consensus of all contributors.

1 As used here and throughout this report, Contributors are all ISC participants who have provided data to ISC for inclusion in its database.

Data Reporting Schedule

Each year, data correspondents will submit CategoryI , Category II and Category III data to ISC on or before July 1st. CategoryI data are to be submitted to both the Data Administrator and Working Group Data Managers. Category II and Category III data are to be submitted to the respective Data Managers of the species Working Groups,e.g. logbook data, (Category II) for albacore fisheries are to be submitted to the ALBWG Data Manager. These annual data submissions will have two components:

  1. preliminary esrimates of a;; available statistics from the previous year
    (CategoryI , Category II and Category III data);and
  2. all available updates of CategoryI , Category II and Category III data from all earlier years.

Category II longline fishries contain catches of many different species and each species is of interest to a different species Working Group. Standardization and validarion of the data, especially fishing effort, should be performed once rather than by each species Working Group independently. The STATWG will coordinate this task with involvement of experts from the species Working Groups.

Adopted ISC4, February 4, 2004