Bluefin tuna school. (Photo Credit: NOAA FishWatch)
Pacific tuna future is now at stake
Tuesday, December 03, 2013, 02:20 (GMT + 9)
Among repeated requests voiced by environmentalists and Pacific island nations to reduce tuna catches in the region, the future of this huge fishery is to be decided at a meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to be held in Cairns.
Tuna capture in the Pacific Ocean reached record figures last year -- 2.65 million tonnes, which represent 60 per cent of the global catch, the agency AAP reported.
But according to a a study conducted by Pew Foundation, bluefin tuna stocks fell 96 per cent from their original levels.
Director of Pew's Global Tuna Conservation program Amanda Nickson stated the NGO considers that without “clear and strong management action” it would be necessary to impose a bluefin tuna fishing ban until a strong science based rebuilding plan is adopted to avoid the extinction of the species.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace insists those to blame for tuna overfishing are large international fleets from the US, Taiwan, Korea, Spain, China and Japan. The NGO claims these ships use destructive fish aggregation devices that capture large amounts of juvenile tuna, particularly of bigeye and yellowfin tunas.
"Australia shares the same fish and the same ocean, so unless we speak out, it's our own fishers and consumers who will ultimately pay the price. They now need to be brought under control, catches reduced, number of vessels reduced to sustainable and economical levels and the high seas pockets closed to all fishing," claimed Duncan Williams of Greenpeace Australia Pacific.
NGOs believe the WCPFC must protect the world’s largest tuna fishery by taking urgent action to rebuild the species stocks and to control fishing gears such as longlines, wire leaders, and fish aggregating devices (FADs) as well as bycatch of other species such as sharks, Guam News reported.
At the same time, the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency considers the Cairns meeting is a “showdown over the need for reform,” since the entity believe the distant water fishing nations will oppose the coastal island states’ attempts to improve the tuna resource management.
The WCPFC was set 10 years ago and now has 25 members, ranging from tiny Niue to the European Union. This international entity makes decisions by consensus, which in critics' view makes it difficult to find solutions for tuna issues.
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