Tuna power brokers block tuna protection

Tuna fisheries management groups from different countries stymied Pacific Island countries' attempts to protect tuna stocks at a paramount international Kobe II fisheries meeting that ended this week in Brisbane, Australia.

"The meeting was a disgrace," said Greenpeace Pacific Oceans Campaigner Duncan Williams. "Foreign tuna industries are preventing Pacific Island countries from protecting their tuna by not agreeing to a timely process or criteria to cut the number of boats on the water to a sustainable level."

"There are simply too many boats chasing too few fish," he declared.

The five tuna fisheries management groups from across the globe joined together at the Kobe II meeting seeking to resolve the dilemma of 'overcapacity' in tuna fishing. It was acknowledged that the amount of vessels fishing the oceans far outweighs the fish's availability.

Over 20 million fishing boats are currently operating. The foreign states are responsible for more than 95 per cent of the fishing vessels in the Pacific Ocean using improved technologies, such as fish aggregation devices (FADs) and purse seine nets, which can catch up to 3,000 tonnes of tuna in a single trip.

"If we continue to fish at this rate we are going to empty our oceans," Williams warned.

"Today foreign fishing industries have literally hijacked discussions to protect pacific tuna and have ultimately put at stake the livelihoods and economies of dependant Pacific Island communities that still use canoes and a pole and line to catch their fish," he added.

A United Nations (UN) report released last month forecast that global fish stocks will exhaust by 2050.

Greenpeace is urging that consumers and retailers take intensified action to save the world's endangered tuna stocks. International officials have failed to act against overfishing.

"Greenpeace is calling for consumers and tuna retailers around the world to take action and stop the trade of endangered species of tuna. If we don't, we will eat bluefin, yellowfin and bigeye tuna out of existence, and kill endangered turtles and sharks with destructive tuna fishing methods such as fish aggregation devices," he said.

Greenpeace is campaigning for sustainable and equitable fisheries and a network of fully protected marine reserves to span 40 per cent of the world's oceans.

Marine reserves are imperative for clean and healthy oceans and to protect marine life from overfishing and habitat destruction, Greenpeace said.

By Natalia Real
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