For many pacific island countries, no tuna means no future.
For years fishing fleets from distant countries have plundered
the Pacific's tuna, riding roughshod over legitimate concerns of
Pacific island countries. In December last year, Japan, Taiwan,
Korea and mainland China all blocked conservation measures at the
Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting.
And as we have witnessed over the past two months at sea in the
Pacific Commons - their fleets are continuing to decimate the tuna
stocks and threaten the future of Pacific livelihoods.
But the tide has turned.
With this new agreement, foreign fishing vessels licensed to
fish in the waters of eight Pacific island countries will be banned
from fishing in two regions of the Pacific Commons adjacent to
these countries. This is a giant stride towards these areas
becoming marine reserves and towards the protection of Pacific
tuna. This is exactly what we have been pushing for since 2005.
The eight countries (Parties to the Nauru Agreement) include the
Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru,
Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. Most of the
tuna stocks from the Pacific, valued at US$ 3 billion a year, come
from the waters of these countries.
The orange areas mark the Pacific
Commons, which we want to see protected. The grey areas mark the
EEZs -- the national fishing waters. ©Greenpeace
No more throwing back the low-value fish
Foreign fishing vessels will also be required to retain their
full catches. This will cut the time fishing boats spend at sea and
the amount of tuna they catch. At present they throw away non-tuna
species to make room in their holds for the more valuable catch. It
will also be compulsory to carry fisheries observers on board at
all times. The use of fish aggregation devices (used to attract
juvenile bigeye and yellowfin tuna) will be banned in these
countries' waters for three months of the year. This is a
conservation measure designed to discourage harvesting of these
highly migratory species. These new rules will take effect on 15
Our ship Esperanza has been in these areas for the last seven
weeks highlighting this issue. During this time we have taken
action against fishing fleets from Taiwan, Korea, the US and the
Philippines. We are calling for the these areas to become no-take
marine reserves and - politicians willing - that will become a
reality before the year is out.
Will we see similar protection of other tuna fisheries? We're
working on it. Our ship Arctic Sunrise is on a three-month tour of the Mediterranean
demanding protection for the tuna fisheries there as well -- and
marine reserves are the answer again.
First step towards healthy oceans for a healthy planet
Protecting the Pacific Commons would be the first step toward
achieving our overall campaign goal: to protect 40 percent of our
oceans with a global network of marine reserves. Keeping the
oceans alive is essential to keeping our planet alive. As global
warming takes its toll on our already stressed marine ecosystems,
we need to protect the most vulnerable areas so they stand a better
chance of survival. In order to ensure the world has fish in the
future, we need marine reserves now.
Dead oceans, dead planet. Sign our petition asking the United Nations to endorse protecting 40 percent of our oceans with no-take marine reserves.
Help keep the Esperanza out on the high seas catching pirates and stopping overfishing. Every contribution helps.