Op-Ed: Time for action not words – making Pacific tuna sustainable

Tuna sandwich

Accountability.Fish Global Director Ryan Orgera discusses the inconsistent rhetoric and behaviour of the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission

If you’ve eaten a tuna sandwich or salad, there’s a good chance your meal was caught in the western and central Pacific Ocean. That area of the globe produces nearly 60% of the worldwide catch of skipjack tuna, the tuna often found in cans and sold as “chunk light” on store shelves in the United States, or as “tuna in water” or “tuna in oil” in other parts of the world.

With all of the concerning reports of fish stocks plummeting, you might wonder if your lunch is sustainable, or not. The truth is, that we don’t know. That’s because the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), which governs the aforementioned 60% of the world’s tuna supply, conducts its most critical compliance meeting in secret. The membership of the WCPFC includes countries which fish, or sell fishing rights, in a swath of the Pacific Ocean spreading from Australia to Hawaii.

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