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Sharks are particularly vulnerable to overexploitation because of their biological characteristics. (Photo: Pew Environment Group/Julien Lajournade)

Pacific nations prepare to fight distant fishing nations at WCPFC meeting

Click on the flag for more information about Philippines PHILIPPINES
Monday, November 26, 2012, 23:50 (GMT + 9)

Pacific nations say their priorities include protecting sharks and that mainly they want other countries who fish in their waters to take responsibility and help preserve marine species. The statements were expressed this week ahead of the upcoming annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Manila from 2-6 December.

This particularly sensitive meeting will determine what happens now that the tuna conservation measures implemented in 2008 have expired.

Anouk Ride, spokesperson for the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), stressed that Pacific Island nations want not only to move forward with a ban on setting nets for whale sharks, but mainly for distant fishing water nations to help out with conservation efforts at sea.

“In the Pacific, we have been taking a lot of measures to control tuna fishing to control some of the by-catch issues and also looking at compliance. What we haven’t seen so much is the willingness from some of the big fishing nations to take action on these issues,” Ride stated, Radio New Zealand International reports.

But while he would like this outcome as well, Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority Director Glen Joseph does not expect that Pacific nations will be able to sway their counterparts to lend a hand. He anticipates a heated meeting in Manila next month.

“When we combine the economics of the tuna industry and the status of fish stocks, we get fireworks,” he said, Marianas Variety reports.

“Scientists are raising a red flag about overfishing of bigeye tuna, but the price of tuna is at an all time high,” Joseph explained. “Where’s the balance between conservation and fishing? I hope it will come out of Manila.”

While the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and the PNA have intensified their monitoring of the Pacific’s fishing industry, some distant water fishing nation members of the WCPFC have outright indicated that they do not share the Pacific nations’ priority of conservation.

The Pew Environment Group said that at the meeting they will also push for management measures for several species of threatened sharks and to explore possible ways to eliminate illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, Solomon Star reports.

Related article:

WCPFC lessens protections for Pacific tuna

By Natalia Real


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