Manila -As the Western and Central Pacific Commission (WCPFC) meeting starts today, the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) said it was time for the big fishing nations to stop overfishing of bigeye tuna.
Each year the WCPFC brings together the Pacific Island countries, Asian nations, US, EU and other foreign fishers to meet and decide rules for fishing of tuna throughout the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, the world’s largest tuna fishery, supplying 50% of the global tuna supply. This year the Commission must decide on a conservation and management measure for tuna at its annual meeting, which begins today and ends on Friday.
PNA Chair Nanette Malsol said: “The PNA are global leaders in conservation and management of tuna. We have initiated and supported many WCPFC conservation measures such as closing high seas areas, introducing controls on Fish Aggregating Devices (FADS, which can result in catches of juvenile bigeye tuna which is being overfished) and others. What’s more we have gone beyond the WCPFC to introduce higher sustainability standards. We banned setting on whale sharks and we have certification by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) of our skipjack tuna caught without FADs as sustainable.”
“This week it’s up to the big fishing nations to show the world what they are going to do to cut overfishing of bigeye tuna. Foreign fishing nations need to cut back fishing, limit FADS, respect the closure of high seas and protect whale sharks. The PNA is sick of foreign fishing nations continually arguing for special exemptions from the rules and for ways they can continue overfishing bigeye tuna, use FADS, access the high seas and generally continue with business as usual. Meanwhile, even though we are small island developing countries, it is the PNA that puts the most time, money and effort into conservation and management of tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. The situation is simply unfair and has to stop.”
The PNA supports proposals at this year’s WCPFC to:
• protect for whale sharks
• cut overfishing of bigeye tuna
• limit use of Fish Aggregating Devices
• close the high seas areas
• support the rights of Pacific countries to develop and manage their fisheries
• reduce the so-called “burden of conservation” – time, government resources and finance needed from Pacific countries to participate in
WCPFC decisions and enforce them in their jurisdiction.