WWF calls on WCPFC to end overfishing

03 Dec 2013

WWF has voiced its concerns that the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) might fail again to implement effective measures to end overfishing of tuna at its annual meeting in Cairns, Australia next week.

The organisation is calling for effective and decisive action and says that drastic measures need to be taken or the bigeye tuna stock could collapse in the next few years. WWF says it wants the Commission to follow scientific recommendations to substantially reduce the bigeye tuna catch.

WWF has been calling upon the WCPFC to adopt measures including limits on the number of fishing vessels and reductions in the reliance on Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) and says that the measures implemented by WCPFC have been insufficient and too late.

WWF says that too many vessels and, in particular, increasing distant water fleets fishing for too few fish constitutes one of the central problems contributing to overfishing in the region. And the number of vessels is increasing, with at least 45 more purse seiners currently under construction in Asian shipyards and expected to join 297 fishing boats already operating in the region. WWF warns that this excess of fishing capacity will lead to additional sustainability problems in the region.

Also, rapidly increasing capacity in the longline fishery from several distant water fishing nations is creating similar problems in the albacore tuna fishery, WWF says.

However, on a positive note, WWF has engaged a large group of responsible buyers, harvesters, processors, and traders, in making a pledge to the WCFPC Commission to support well-planned and designed tuna fishery improvement and conservation initiatives to sustain livelihoods, minimise environmental impacts and supply the world with responsibly-managed, high quality tuna through certification according to the MSC standards.

WWF and others are hoping that the WCPFC will take decisive and effective measures to conserve the region’s important tuna stocks this year.

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