Fisheries commission blind to Bigeye fate
Particularly disappointing was the failure to find solutions to resolve the downward spiral of already overfished bigeye tuna despite scientists asking for the fishing to be cut substantially. More and more bigeye tuna are being caught with no adequate action to reverse the decline. Precautionary conservation measures to protect yellowfin stocks, facing increasing fishing, were also put off.
Positive actions taken by the WCPFC to protect oceanic whitetip shark and cetaceans were overshadowed by inaction on whale sharks entangled by purse seine nets.
WWF expressed dismay at the rapid growth in longline fleets in the Western and Central Pacific that target southern albacore tuna. Catches of albacore have risen from 53000 metric tonnes to 71000 metric tonnes over the last ten years, placing at risk other vulnerable marine species like seabirds.
WWF was heartened that a joint WWF and other conservation organisation submission in the closing minutes of the meeting that the commission take urgent action on the conservation of albacore had drawn the support of Japan and Pacific island countries and territories.
“Progress towards sustainable management of tuna stocks has been frustratingly stalled and in some cases gone backwards”, said Daniel Suddaby, Tuna Manager of WWF’s global Smart Fishing Initiative. “By not implementing good fisheries management, the WCPFC is showing a worrying lack of precaution for the future of one of the world’s most important tuna fisheries.”
WWF strongly urges WCPFC Member States to take action to support the implementation of the precautionary approach to fisheries management, more in particular to:
- Adopt harvest control rules and reference points in line with international best practice for tuna stocks;
- Strengthen regulations on bycatch species impacted by tuna fishing; and
- Reduce fishing capacity in line with long term sustainable yields
"Short-term interests combined with a lack of political will are amongst the drivers of unsustainable tuna management. Despite the ground-swell of consumers and retailers demanding sustainable tuna, WCPFC’s failure to implement a precautionary approach to tuna management risks damaging the natural resources that these fisheries depend upon. ” said Mr Suddaby.
“Incentives to limit fishing effort in Pacific tuna fisheries must be given serious attention. A working fisheries management system that makes sustainable fishing a viable long-term economic activity in the Pacific and offers a choice for global tuna consumers is critical.”