Kaohsiung, 23 March 2012 – The Greenpeace ship Esperanza arrived in Kaohsiung to kick start a two-week-tour calling for marine conservation measures. Having sailed all over the world to expose illegal fishing activities, document and survey our oceans, the Esperanza just finished a 3-month expedition in the Pacific. With the upcoming Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting in Guam beginning on 26 March, Esperanza is urging Taiwan's Fisheries Agency to support sustainable fishing policies, including creating more fully-protected marine reserves, banning destructive Fish Aggregating Devices in purse seine fisheries, and reducing bigeye tuna fishing efforts by 50%.
"The futures of the Pacific tuna and the fishing industry are strongly connected. At the WCPFC, the Taiwanese Fisheries Agency should support the closure of the Pacific Commons to all fishing, if they truly care about sustainability," said Yu-fen Kao, senior oceans campaigner of Greenpeace East Asia.
Roughly 60% of the world's tuna comes from the Western and Central Pacific. With 1600 fishing fleets, Taiwan is the largest fishing power in the area in terms of both the number of vessels and fishing capacity.
On March 26, officials from the Taiwanese Fisheries Agency will be among the 25 governments attending the WCPFC meeting in Guam. A numbers of sustainable fishing policies enacted in 2008 will be reviewed, including the creation of marine reserves in the Pacific Commons, a ban on destructive Fish Aggregation Devices and a 50% reduction of bigeye tuna catches. Taiwan and other member governments play a pivotal role in this meeting to put aside short-term economic benefits, value the region's precious fisheries resource to help relieve over-fishing.
Before coming to Taiwan, Esperanza was engaged in a three month "Defending our Pacific"ship tour, investigating and confronting illegal fishing activities. The project leader from the "Defending Our Pacific" tour, Lagi Toribau, said "We found illegal activities are still rampant in the Pacific Commons. This shows that better management is urgently needed if the Pacific, its tuna and its people are to survive."
With the decline of tuna population in other regions, the Western and Central Pacific Ocean has become one of the last viable tuna fishing grounds. "The Pacific tuna is in dire straits as fishing fleets from Asia, EU and the US are literally fishing out the oceans. To some Pacific Island nations, tuna is the major source of protein and is a lifeline for their people. As a Pacific Islander, I am urging the Taiwanese government as well as other responsible players to support the urgently needed conservation measures in the upcoming WCPFC meeting, to restore our oceans to health."
Image © Elliot Hsiao / Greenpeace
Renee Chou, communications officer, Greenpeace East Asia (based in Taipei).
Yen Ning, oceans campaigner, Greenpeace East Asia (based in Taipei).