Since I joined Greenpeace East Asia’s Seoul office last September I have been lobbying government officials and company executives about tuna issues, usually with this meeting in Guam as a main topic.
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I’m here with 12 Greenpeace colleagues from Fiji, New Zealand, China, Taiwan, Finland, Australia, Philippines, USA and Hong Kong. We are here to convince our industries to back tuna conservation and to lobby our governments to secure agreements that will enable future generations to have ample tuna, viable fishing industries and healthy oceans.
Korea is one of the biggest fishing powers in the world and their decisions here at the Pacific Tuna Commision will decide the future of the world’s largest tuna fishery, including bigeye and yellowfin for sashimi and the skipjack for Korean "Gimbamp" (sushi roll with canned tuna).
Unfortunately, things are not as easy as I thought they would be. The Korean government delegations have been avoiding some of the difficult conversations. The US government invited Greenpeace and other NGOs to have an open discussion with the US delegation, sharing concerns over the meeting agenda. In contrast, the Korean government has hardly recognised my attendance here.
Korea has one of the world’s most powerful fishing fletes and is ranked second in the world in terms of total tuna catch, and 98% of Korean tuna catch comes from the Pacific. That’s why the Korean government feels this is such an important meeting, and also why I’m here: to give voice to the Pacific island communities who depend on the tuna.
Things are looking quite positive at the end of day three as more discussion is happening. I would prefer to be sitting next to the Korean delegates talking about innovative conservation solutions and discussing how the world is able to enjoy sustainably caught tuna. This meeting is just the beginning, and the first step to making that dream a reality.
Jonghee Han is an oceans campaigner based in Greenpeace East Asia’s Seoul office.