Tuna meet fails to address overfishing in Phillippines

Bernadette Carreon – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Manila, Philippines (4E) – Big foreign fishing nations closed the annual Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meet, Thursday, rejecting efforts to address overfishing especially declining bigeye tuna stocks

Among the outcomes of the tuna meeting was that high seas for purse seine fishing will remain open to the Philippines.

A one-month extension was added to the current three month ban on the use of destructive fish aggregating devices (FADs) in purse seine fisheries.

The region’s large and poorly regulated longline fleets were left with little controls and only the Chinese fleet was required to reduce its fishing activities by 10% in 2013 and efforts to stop the landing of illegally-caught fish in ports were also rejected.

The Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission also failed to enact strong fishing limits and regulations to stop shark finning and the incidental catches of sharks in longline fisheries.

“This meeting was a disaster for the Pacific. The governments here should be held accountable for failing to protect vulnerable species that form the backbone of many economies in the Pacific, and provide food and livelihoods to coastal communities across the region. The big corporate players won and will continue their plunder for short-term profits at the expense of our oceans’ health,” said Lagi Toribau, head of the Greenpeace delegation to the WCPFC.

Fishing nations however agreed to protect whale sharks through a ban on the setting of nets on whale sharks.

The WCPFC also tightened monitoring and control rules by making it compulsory for fishing vessels to report data when transiting in exclusive economic zones.

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement said that WCPFC failed to agree on commitments to cut overfishing of bigeye tuna.

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.”

The PNA manages the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery- 50 percent of the world’s skipjack tuna, come from its waters.

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.

Governments spent the week debating how much bigeye tuna overfishing to allow, rather than how to set limits that manage this stock sustainably. This is deeply disappointing and rejects the current science,” said Adam Baske working on Pew’s global tuna campaign.

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