Greenpeace's team on the ground in Honolulu for the Pacific Tuna Summit
Last week, a global team of Greenpeace campaigners arrived in Honolulu to attend the 7th annual meeting of the western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting.
The WCPFC is the international treaty body that manages the tuna fisheries from a little west of Hawaii all the way to the Asian mainland and from 20 degrees north latitude to 20 degrees south latitude.
This is a really huge area of ocean and has the last still healthy tuna populations, of any of the world’s oceans, where about 60% of the current world’s tuna catch comes from.
The scientists tell us the populations are going down fast here, like elsewhere, overfishing is taking its toll and unless the WCPFC takes some strong conservation measures immediately these tuna populations will end up like all the rest – depleted - leaving another big hole in our oceans - and the people that depend on them for both food security and income high and dry. It’s not too late to turn this situation around and that’s why we’re here.
Our Pacifc tuna team, comprised of oceans campaigners like myself from New Zealand, Fiji, Australia, Taiwan, Japan and Finland have all come to Honolulu to continue our fight to save the Pacific tuna. We want to let the Commission members and particularly the US delegation know people all over the world care about the health of the ocean and it’s wildlife, including tuna.
Thursday, we headed over to the O’Neil Triple Crown World Championship surfing competition as Sunset beach on Hawaii’s famous North Shore to see what the surfers think about healthy oceans and if possible get them to speak out. Just as we suspected, surfers have a boundless love of the ocean and once they learned from us the dismal state of the Pacifc tunas they were happy to lend their voices to the cause.
Greenpeace ocean campaigners talking with Brazilian pro surfer and O’Neil Sunset Beach champion Raoni Montreio
We ended up getting interviews with several of them where their passion for the ocean can only be described as worship. Both the women’s champion and the men’s champion of the Sunset Beach competition gave us great impassioned interviews to share with the commission and the media to spread the call to save Pacific tuna. Tyler Wright, a 16-year-old from Australia (first time winner) and Raoni Montiero from Brazil (first time a Brazilian has won Sunset in 19 years) took the time from their well-deserved celebrations to let us videotape them and let me tell the pure joy and excitement they were feeling right after winning infected us all – thank you Tyler and Raoni.
Next we went back to Honolulu to see how people along Waikiki beach felt about healthy oceans. We gathered hundreds of signatures to our petition to save the Pacific tuna, which I will be delivering to the US delegation at the meeting this week. You too can show your support for saving Pacific tuna here on our web site and have your voice heard by the Commission here in Hawaii.
Greenpeace activists with tuna banner at the Aloha Tower Honolulu
Our photo appeared in the Honolulu Star Advertiser - photos and all! The Star Advertiser was distributed to all of the rooms at the hotel where the WCPFC is being held: so all of the delegates to the WCPFC had a nice Greenpeace welcome yesterday morning.
Now it’s time for our Pacific tuna team to work the WCPFC meeting and help our Pacific island friends save Pacifc tuna...
Phil Kline is an oceans campaigner based in the Washington, D.C. office of Greenpeace USA. He is a former commercial fishermen turned oceans advocate who is hoping the WCPFC delivers real change for the Pacific Ocean and its people this year.