Greenpeace Welcomes Establishment of 4.5 million km Square Area of Pacific As Off-Limits to Tuna Fishing

US compliance Urged to Restore Tuna Populations to Healthy Levels

Press release - 31 December, 2010
Amsterdam, 1 January 2011 - Greenpeace welcomes the entry into force today of a vast marine conservation area in the West and Central Pacific. In an attempt to rescue the region's declining bigeye and yellowfin tuna stocks, the no-take zone bans purse seine fishing from 4.5 million km2 over five areas of international waters of the Pacific.

The area under protection has been demarked by eight tuna rich Pacific Island Countries, known as the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), and it will be enforced through licensing agreements granted to tuna fishing vessels.

 “We congratulate the PNA for their vision in protecting our Pacific from wasteful purse seine fishing. This is an historic moment for the Pacific, its marine life and its people's futures,” said Lagi Toribau, Greenpeace Australia Pacific oceans campaigner. “For years, these countries have tried to protect their tuna through political means at the regional tuna commission, but foreign fishing nations stood in the way of progress to save our oceans. It is important for the people of the Pacific region to control their own destiny and move towards a future of sustainability and economic prosperity with such a bold vision.”

Just this past December, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) failed to agree the protection of these areas. Their protection by the WCPFC would have been an important sign of support from the fishing nations operating in the region, but the European Union and South Korea blocked consensus and derailed the proposal. This means that for the time being 40 vessels will be able to argue legal exemption from the PNA measure due to a treaty between the US and 16 Pacific nations (1).

“The US must now respect the Pacific Island nations’ decision to close these areas and not fish in them,” said Sari Tolvanen of Greenpeace International. “This would be an important sign of the US government’s willingness to protect tuna stocks for the millions dependent on them.”

The PNA countries have also pledged to reduce fishing in their EEZs by 30% to help rescue tuna from the pressures of overfishing and ensure that the fishing effort is not simply transferred to unprotected areas.

“The next step to save tuna for the Pacific Island Countries must be a ban on wasteful fish aggregating devices (FADs) with purse seine nets in all of their fisheries to reduce wasteful bycatch and declare the high seas areas newly designated as no-take zones as fully protected marine reserves,” continued Tolvanen.

FADs are man-made floating objects that result in high catches of vulnerable juvenile bigeye and yellowfin tuna that take with them other marine life including endangered sharks and turtles. Greenpeace is campaigning for a global ban on purse seine fishing using FADs.

Greenpeace is working with retailers across the world to pressure governments and oceans management bodies to agree the necessary mechanisms – including a FAD ban, reduction in fishing levels and the creation of marine reserves to guarantee healthy levels of Pacific tuna for the future.

“Retailers and tuna brands worldwide now need to support the Pacific communities by pledging to stop buying tuna caught in the closed areas. In addition they should reject purse seine FAD caught tuna and purchase sustainably-caught tuna products from the Pacific,” continued Tolvanen.

Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans and for a more sustainable fishing industry, both necessary steps to restoring our oceans to health. Greenpeace is working with retailers across Europe, Australia and the Americas to increase the market share of sustainably-sourced tuna.

 

CONTACTS:

Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner +31 655 125 480

Lagi Toribau, Greenpeace Australia Pacific oceans campaigner +679 331 2861

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

(1) The US Multilateral Treaty, signed in 1987 has been renewed on two occasions, with the last renewal in 2003 and to run for 10 years until 2013. The US Treaty enables US purse seine fishing vessels to fish in the waters of 16 Pacific nations: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

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