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Greenpeace: WPFC meeting fails tuna

03 Apr 2012

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting ended having failed to reach agreement on necessary conservation measures, putting Pacific tuna populations on coarse to collapse, says 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 and keep bigeye tuna on coarse to depletion, the organisation said.

“This meeting unravelled protection for the region’s tuna populations and the Pacific Commons areas that have been off limits to purse seine fishing for 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. 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.


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