Cairns, Australia – Japan, the US, China and Indonesia have been named as part of the ‘Pacific 6’ countries responsible for overfishing 80 per cent of the valuable bigeye tuna stocks and an analysis has been released documenting the destructive methods they use to dominate the $USD 7billion industry.
The 43 member countries of the body responsible for the world’s largest tuna fishery – the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission – will negotiate from today on an action plan to end overfishing of bigeye tuna by 2018.
Named the Pacific 6: Chinese Taipei, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, China and the United States are responsible for 80% (111,482 tonnes in 2011) of the annual catch of big eye tuna, which is prized for sushi and sashimi around the world.
The Pew Charitable Trusts has compiled data on the countries over fishing of bigeye tuna to highlight the destructive methods of longlines and purse seine nets used to catch record numbers of tuna.
“The WCPFC has a unique and important responsibility as custodian of the world’s largest tuna fishery in an area covering 20 percent of the Earth’s surface,” Amanda Nickson, Director of Pew’s Global Tuna Conservation program said.
As part of its analysis, Pew has outlined to members of the WCPFC that, in 2012, the tuna fishery in the Western and Central Pacific peaked, both in terms of catch and value.
“Member countries have a responsibility to end overfishing of bigeye tuna by 2018. In addition, urgent action is needed to rebuild the severely depleted Pacific bluefin population – now at just 3.6 percent of unfished levels.”
Pew believes that if the WCPFC again fails to act and implement urgently needed management measures, fishing for Pacific bluefin tuna should be suspended until evidence-based initiatives and safeguards are put in place.
“Not only must the threat of illegal and over fishing of tuna be met head-on, but action is also urgently needed to limit the damage caused by fishing gears such as longlines, wire leaders, and fish aggregating devices. including bycatch of other species such as sharks, many species of which are endangered in the convention area as a result of highly unregulated fishing,” Ms Nickson said.