Sending out an SOS for Pacific tuna

Feature story - 8 December, 2008
Our activists together with Korean environmental group KFEM created a huge human "SOS Tuna" banner on the shores of a beach in Busan, Korea, as a key regional meeting in Korea began this week. This extremely critical meeting will decide the fate of valuable tuna stocks in the Pacific, which are now seriously threatened due to overfishing.

Time and tuna are running out!

The Pacific ocean is rich in marine life and home to over 20 IslandNations. Today, the Pacific supplies over 6 percent of the world's tuna. Butoverfishing in other areas of the world means more and more boats aremoving in, and chasing fewer and fewer fish.

Huge industrial tuna boats, capable of catching as many tuna in onetrip as some of the countries are able to take in a year, areplundering this vulnerable region at a rate that means trouble for thetuna as well as the people whose livelihoods and futures depend on them.

These boats originate from countries like Korea, Japan and Taiwan andfeed the ever-increasing appetites for tuna in the luxury Asian, European and US markets.

It's not just about saving some fish

The lives and economies of Pacific Islanders and Pacific Island nations are in peril as big eye and yellow fin tuna stocks are threatened from overfishing. Pacific communities are at the mercy of unscrupulous foreign fishersand our growing global appetite for tuna is in the grip of unfair andunsustainable fishing.

We are calling on delegates at this week's Western and CentralPacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting in Korea to implement measures fora sustainable and profitable fishing industry. TheWCPFC must start putting words into action byagreeing on strong and effective measures. A precautionary and ecosystem-based approach isneeded to preserve the rich marine diversity of the Pacific Ocean.

Reduce, protect and reject

There must be an immediate halving offishing, a closure to fishing in the high seas pockets and an immediatehalt to the transfer of fish at sea to discourage piracy.

The WCPFC must ensure decisions are not hijacked againby a small minority of nations that are not acting in the best interestof Pacific people, their valuable tuna resources andthe health of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean ecosystem.

We have one last chance to ensure the bigeye and yellowfin tuna stocks do notface the same fate as bluefin tuna of the Mediterranean. The Commission has to be preparedto face the consequences if negotiations break down to governments andindustry ruthlessly bargaining for the last tuna.

Our ship, the Esperanza, is present in Korea to bear witness tothe WCPFC's decisions, which will dictate the future of Pacific tuna.

Korea should lead by example

We have joined forces with Korean environmental group KFEM to ensure that Korea, as the host nation and key player in the fishery, takes the lead in making sure that this meeting takes action. 

We need marine reserves which will fully protect the most vulnerable breeding grounds of the tuna from exploitation. We need sustainable management measures outside those areas that will secure a future for this fishery and for the future of the millions of Pacific island people that depend on this resource for their livelihood. 

Take Action!

If we want fish tomorrow we need marine reserves today. Join the call for a global network of marine reserves protecting 40 percent of the world's oceans.

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Without donations from individuals like you, we can't afford to attend meetings like this one in Korea to pressure governments who need to make the right decisions to protect our planet. We don't take any corporate or government donations. Please give what you can.