Greenpeace demand change from the Fisheries Agency.
Next time you take a bite out of your tuna sandwich, think on this. 60% of the world's tuna is coming from the West and Central Pacific where more than 30% of the fishing vessels are owned by Taiwan, a powerful fishing power subsidizing overfishing. And it's led to a serious depletion crisis in the local tuna population. According to the Red Book published by IUCN, the most important tuna species in the Central and Western Pacific such as the big-eye tuna, yellow-fin tuna and albacore are all on the brink of extinction. The numbers of big-eye tuna is estimated to be at only 17% of its original figures.
Earlier this month Greenpeace released a report revealing that in the period of 2002 to 2010, the Fisheries Agency, a Taiwanese governmental sector, had spent TWD 4 billion (95 million euro) in subsidizing the industry's gasoline costs. And don't believe this money lands in the pockets of local, front-line fishermen. Only about 5% of the Taiwanese people employed in the fishing industry see any financial support from the agency. This is because tuna fishing involves extremely expensive and sophisticated vessels (for example, the skipjack tuna purse-seine has a total yearly operational cost close to 2 million euro). These kinds of vessels are they type that only huge corporations can afford.
Global price hikes in gasoline has meant hard times for the fishing industry, which is why the Fisheries Agency has stepped in, spending over 300 million euro in supporting the industry. That included subsidization of gasoline for vessels, and vessel buy-back programs. Of the total, about 75% of the money reduced the real cost of the industry and helped them to maintain their fishing capacity with no evaluation about current fishing resources. Less than 3% of the total budget was spent on research and management measures that can support the restoration of fish populations. Additionally, the Fisheries Agency has yet to control the number of new vessels, despite Taiwan facing international pressure to reduce its vessels.
Greenpeace activist meets with a Fisheries Agency spokesperson.
Yesterday Greenpeace activists went to the Taiwan Fisheries Agency's headquarters to demand they face the tuna overfishing crisis and be more transparent about the Agency's budget and policy-making. Taiwan – one of the world's largest tuna fishing powers - needs to engage more in conservation discussions, including upcoming regional fisheries management meetings.
Over-fishing makes no sense: economically, or environmentally. We've heard the Fisheries Agency and Taiwanese President Ma pay lip service to the concept of "sustainability" but now we demand they actually step up to the plate. That means real conservation measures to achieve sustainable fisheries and the creation of more marine reserves in the Pacific Ocean.
Read the full report: Net loss: How Taiwan subsidizes tuna depletion
And then watch this Greenpeace video 'Open Up A Can of Truth' showing the realities of tuna fishing: