Manila – The Western and Central Pacific Commission (WCPFC) meeting closed today with a temporary measure that allows big fishing nations to continue to overfish bigeye tuna, said the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA).
The PNA manages the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery – 50% of the world’s skipjack tuna, the most commonly canned tuna, comes from its waters. While skipjack tuna is fished at sustainable levels, bigeye tuna, a popular sashimi fish is overfished – a problem caused by catching juvenile fish around Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) and longline fishing vessel catch by the big fishing nations such as EU, US, Japan and the other Asian nations.
Each year the WCPFC brings together the Pacific Island countries and the big fishing nations to meet and decide rules for fishing of tuna throughout the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, the world’s largest tuna fishery. The meeting closed today having decided a new conservation and management measure on tuna which will be applied until the end of 2013. The meeting also banned setting nets on whale sharks in the waters from 20 degrees South to 30 degrees North.
PNA Chair Nanette Malsol said: “This year at the tuna commission meeting, PNA was successful in getting a ban on setting fishing nets around whale sharks and in getting the commission to ‘flick the switch’ so Pacific countries can see all fishing vessels in their waters that are on the commission vessel monitoring system which closes a loophole for illegal fishing.”
“However, the big fishing nations did not make any significant commitments to cut their overfishing of bigeye tuna. It is the big fishing nations of the EU, US, Japan and Asian nations that have historically overfished bigeye tuna, it is their longline fishing vessels that are responsible for much of the catch of adult bigeye tuna which is still fished 40% over the sustainable level.”
“This week, Korea and Chinese Taipei only agreed to voluntarily cut their longline catch by 2% and China by 10%.”
“The PNA are global leaders in conservation and management of tuna.
Within our waters, which cover 50% of the world’s skipjack tuna supply, the most commonly canned tuna, we still have the world’s best tuna conservation and management measures – fishing effort is capped by a set number of days vessels can fish, there is an independent observer on every one of our fishing vessels, there are limits on Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) and closure of high seas to all purse seine fishing vessels licenced to fish in our waters.”
“We also will continue to work through leading industry initiatives – such as certification by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) that our
skipjack tuna caught without FADs is sustainable – to help supply tuna with the best environmental and social standards to the world.”
“While this year the tuna commission failed to take its responsibilities seriously regarding the fate of tuna, PNA will continue to ensure its skipjack tuna is sustainably managed and push for a better conservation and management measure at the next WCPFC in 2013.”