Tuna Commission unravels Pacific tuna protection in Guam – Fishupdate.com

Tuna Commission unravels Pacific tuna protection in Guam Published:  30 March, 2012

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting has ended having failed to reach agreement on necessary conservation measures putting Pacific tuna populations on a dead end course to collapse, according to Greenpeace.

 

Instead of creating a rescue plan to ensure the survival of the world’s largest tuna fishery, the Commission ended up agreeing a temporary measure that would weaken existing protections of the Pacific Commons (1) and keep bigeye tuna on coarse to depletion, says the envrionment protection organisation.

“This meeting unraveled protection for the region’s tuna populations and the Pacific Commons areas that have been off limits to purse seine fishing for the the last two years. This is a disappointing step backward. The Pacific region relies on tuna for food, jobs and economic prosperity and the Commission’s decisions go against the wants and needs of the region’s people, the world’s consumers, and forward-thinking businesses,” said Lagi Toribau, Greenpeace Australia Pacific oceans campaigner.

Commission members failed to agree the extension of the closure of the Pacific Commons to purse seine fishing, the continuation of a regional ban on Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) in purse seine fishing from three to four months and an additional 10% reduction in longline fishing in the region.

Some Pacific Island countries also proposed closure of Pacific Commons to longline fishing, a controversial issue stalled mainly by South Korea. The meeting also agreed to protect endangered oceanic white tip sharks and to ban setting of purse seine nets on whales and dolphins. Japan blocked the ban on setting nets on whale sharks which will be discussed again at the next WCPFC meeting in December.

The closure of the Pacific Commons to purse seine fishing for the past two years had helped reduce pirate fishing in the region and supported Pacific Island countries’ efforts to reap fairer financial benefits from the fishery, says Greenpeace.

Eight island nations will now enforce protection of the Pacific Commons as a condition of access to their waters despite the WCPFC’s failure to act. Industry change is needed to move forwards in tuna protection in the face of political resistance.

“Greenpeace’s work to defend our oceans will continue, as tuna brands and retailers increasingly support Pacific communities in protecting their tuna resources. Just today, US retail giant Safeway pledged not to source tuna from the Pacific Commons for its private brand, joining other progressive businesses in advocating for what these delegates here should be delivering and that is a future with ample tuna, viable fishing industries and healthy oceans for everyone,” added Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner.

Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans and for a more sustainable fishing industry, both necessary steps to restoring our oceans to health. Around the world, Greenpeace is working with retailers and tuna brands across Europe, Australia and the Americas to increase the market share of sustainably-sourced tuna.