EU, South Korea Lead Efforts to Derail Pacific Tuna Rescue Plans at Hawaii Summit

Press release - 11 December, 2010
Honolulu, 11 December 2010 - Greenpeace is disappointed with the failure of governments attending the week-long meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to agree to measures to halt the decline of Pacific tuna stocks. A group of Pacific Island Countries (1) had proposed an historic measure that would have closed international waters between their borders to all destructive tuna purse seine fishing. The distant-water fishing nations at the Hawaii meeting also rejected other measures designed to address tuna declines, clamp down on pirate fishing and halt biodiversity loss.

“The unwillingness of fishing nations to support measures that are also fair to developing countries and the agree necessary steps to rescue the region’s tuna means the very future of the region hangs in the balance,” said Lagi Toribau, Greenpeace Australia Pacific oceans campaigner. “The rejection of the Pacific proposal to close huge areas to destructive fishing, led by the EU and South means that Pacific tuna will stay on foreign sushi plates and profits will stay out of Pacific Island wallets.”

Pacific island countries must now continue to lead on conservation, having already agreed to close these 4,5 million square kilometers of international waters to purse seine fishing, enforced through license agreements, and reduce fishing effort by 30 percent. In order to ensure a sustainable Western and Central Pacific tuna fishery, Greenpeace will continue to campaign for an end to all fishing in the high seas pockets adjoining island nation waters and ban the use of Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs), man-made objects used to attract tuna to purse-seine nets. 

Fish aggregating devices (FADs) have been a key factor in the decline of bigeye and yellowfin tuna stocks and in killing other marine life such as sharks and turtles. Japan and other Asian fishing powers even rejected a proposal at the WCPFC meeting to stop setting nets on whales and endangered whale sharks.

“In order to ensure tuna supplies and living oceans for the future, retailers and markets must play a much bigger role in bodies such as the WCPFC and balance the undue influence of industrial fishing companies,” said Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner. “Retailers should continue to reject unsustainable tuna products such as bluefin, bigeye and yellowfin until management of our oceans improves and to stop buying all fish from the areas closed by the Pacific Island nations.”

The WCPFC’s failure to save the region’s tuna follows a long line of similar failures by fisheries management organisations globally, indicating an urgent need for the international community to create a new conservation-based framework for managing our oceans. A more holistic and ecosystem based approach to fisheries governance is needed if the world is to avoid the imminent collapse of many key fish stocks, including Pacific bigeye and yellowfin tuna.

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.

For more information about Greenpeace at the WCPFC, visit



(1)  The eight Pacific nations, the so-called Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) are Nauru, Tuvalu, Palau, Marshal Islandsa, Federated States of Micronesia, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati.