Greenpeace: WCPFC outcomes a “disaster”
The latest meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) took place this week in the Philippines and the outcomes have been described as a “disaster” by Greenpeace.
The organisation says that governments of WCPFC have allowed the continued plunder of the region's declining bigeye tuna stocks while also putting yellowfin, skipjack and albacore tuna at risk of overfishing.
"This meeting was a disaster for the Pacific. The governments here should be held accountable for failing to protect vulnerable species that form the backbone of many economies in the Pacific, and provide food and livelihoods to coastal communities across the region. The big corporate players won and will continue their plunder for short-term profits at the expense of our oceans’ health," said Lagi Toribau, head of the Greenpeace delegation to the WCPFC.
The WCPFC summit outcomes have been described by Greenpeace as follows:
- Inaction to sufficiently halt overfishing of Pacific bigeye and yellowfin tuna, two of the most vulnerable Pacific tuna species
- Failure to fully close the Pacific Commons to all fishing – leaving the region vulnerable to illegal fishing activities as documented by Greenpeace's recently concluded Esperanza ship tour
- Failure to sufficiently extend a ban on the use of destructive fish aggregating devices (FADs) in purse seine fisheries. A one-month extension was added to the current three-month ban. A very weak management plan to attempt to bring this destructive fishing method under control was discussed
- The region's large and poorly regulated longline fleets were left with little controls and only the Chinese fleet was required to reduce its fishing activities by 10% in 2013
- Efforts to stop the landing of illegally-caught fish in ports were also rejected.
The WCPFC did not enact strong fishing limits and regulations to stop shark finning and the incidental catches of sharks in longline fisheries, but did agree to protect whale sharks from being used by purse seine vessels as living fish aggregating devices, through a ban on the setting of nets on whale sharks.
The WCPFC also tightened monitoring and control rules by making it compulsory for fishing vessels to report data when transiting in exclusive economic zones.
But the WCPFC extended an exemption for 36 Philippine purse seine ships, giving them access to high seas fishing grounds that had previously been closed to fishing.
Greenpeace says that politics have failed the oceans and it now up to consumer markets to demand sustainable products on the shelves.