Greenpeace calls for urgent action to protect Pacific tuna stocks
Greenpeace is calling for urgent action, saying Pacific tuna stocks are continuing to fall at an alarming rate and existing protection measures are failing.
The conservation group’s call is sparked by the findings of a ten-day meeting of the Scientific Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, otherwise known as the Tuna Commission, in Micronesia.
Amelia Langford reports:
Greenpeace says the commission has found Pacific bluefin is now down to just four percent of its original stock size and other tuna stock are also at risk. A spokesperson, Karli Thomas, says something needs to change and fast.
“KARLI THOMAS: We need to see urgent action by Pacific Island countries and other countries that are involved in this fishery to bring down the catchrates of these stocks and allow them to recover. Because if that is done everyone is going to be better off in the long run. We are going to have healthy tuna stock and a healthier Pacific Ocean.”
Karli Thomas says there are too many industrial fishing fleets in the region that are using unsustainable fishing methods. She also says members of the Tuna Commission made a commitment in 2008 to reduce overfishing, especially bigeye tuna.
“KARLI THOMAS: One the background of having made those commitments, countries have gone ahead and added new fishing vessels, increased the capacity of their fishing vessels, and rather than seeing the decline that needed to happen we have actually seen much greater fishing effort.”
But the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency says Greenpeace is being reactionary. Its acting director for fisheries management, Ian Freeman, says most tuna stocks are not at threat in the Pacific. But he says there is no doubt that the fall of bluefin tuna to under five percent is a worry.
“IAN FREEMAN: While that is a significant concern, there are managment arrangements in place or being developed that are preventing the other tuna stocks from going anywhere near that level at the moment.”
But a fish exporter in Fiji, Graham Southwick, says the prospects for a healthy tuna industry are extremely bleak. Mr Southwick, who is the managing director of Fiji Fish Marketing Group, says foreign fleets, particularly Chinese fleets, are responsible for the overfishing.
“GRAHAM SOUTHWICK: The Pacific Islands are now very, very dependent on Chinese support and influence so I can’t see that any Pacific Island is even going to attempt to stop the Chinese boats coming in.”
Graham Southwick also says fishing subsidies for foreign fleets are taking a toll on the local fishing industry.
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