(Media release) 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 shape up and improve their record on conservation and management of tuna, in particular 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.
“By introducing controls on Fish Aggregating Devices (FADS that can result in catches of juvenile bigeye tuna which is being overfished) and other measures, we have gone beyond the WCPFC requirements to introduce higher sustainability standards,” said PNA Chair Sylvester Pokajam.
“Now its time for the big fishing nations to shape up – what are they going to do to stop their overfishing of bigeye tuna? What are they going to do to manage FADs? What are they going to do when they are asked to support our high seas fishing closures? What are they going to sacrifice financially in the short term so tuna fishing is kept within sustainable limits?”
“Foreign fishing nations are 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 WCPFC meeting will consider overfishing of bigeye tuna, use of FADs, closure of the high seas areas, management of skipjack tuna and the issue of the rights of small island developing states and the so called “burden of conservation” – time, government resources and finance needed from smaller countries to participate in WCPFC decisions and enforce them in their jurisdiction.
Parties to the Nauru Agreement