Pacific plunder

As industrial fishing fleets exhaust tuna stocks around the globe more and more are heading to the Pacific in search of a disappearing resource. There are almost 6000 vessels licensed to fish for tuna in the Pacific and in 2012 around 2.6 million tonnes of Pacific tuna were caught – that’s about 60 per cent of the world’s supply of tuna. However, overfishing means tuna stocks are being caught faster than they can replenish.

This plunder of the Pacific is impacting on the health of our ocean, the future of tuna in the region and of Pacific island countries and their people which rely on the fisheries economically and as an essential source of food.

Pacific bigeye and yellowfin are already in serious trouble. Two years ago scientists advised that fishing needed to be cut by up to 50 per cent to allow bigeye tuna to recover. In New Zealand we’re noticing the reduced numbers of yellowfin arriving in our coastal waters from the Pacific, especially long the east coast of the North Island. The Whakatane Sportsfishing Club has removed the word ‘tuna’ from the name of one of its annual tournaments as tuna are no longer being caught.

Destructive fishing practices are wiping out tuna stocks as well as other marine species. The main method of catching skipjack tuna (the most common species you’ll find on supermarket shelves) is one of the worst offenders. Fishing fleets use floating death traps to attract schools of tuna - fish aggregation devices (FADs) - then scoop up everything in the area with huge purse seine nets. The indiscriminate catch includes tuna so young that they haven't had a chance to reproduce as well as unwanted species including sharks and turtles which are thrown back into the sea dead or dying. This method of using death trap FADs, along with purse seine nets, catches up to ten times more unwanted species than more sustainable practices.

Pirate fishing is also rampant in high value tuna fisheries, literally stealing tuna from the plates of some of the poorest people in the world. Illegal fishing is estimated to cost the Pacific region up to NZ$1.7 billion per year.

But even the legal tuna fisheries are part of the robbery. The way that foreign fishing nations and rich multinational corporations negotiate with Pacific Island countries for access to fish tuna in their waters is incredibly unfair. Only around five per cent of the value of the tuna is given to the resource owners, often denying coastal communities much-needed employment and perpetuating irresponsible fishing.

In 2013 we launched a report providing a blueprint for Pacific Island governments and regional bodies to promote a more sustainable and locally owned and operated tuna fishery in the region.



The latest updates

 

How Greenpeace may be about to stop US$150 million getting into a dodgy fishing company

Blog entry by Elsa Lee | October 17, 2014

Seeing Greenpeace in the leading headline of Hong Kong's most prestigious financial newspaper is not something I am used to! But if you knew why, you would see how your support is bringing companies engaged in overfishing to their...

Tuna: The quick species guide

Blog entry by Karli Thomas | May 2, 2014

Tuna are fish, and they are wild animals. But to many people, they are simply understood as food. It can be a bit confusing when the short hand of ‘tuna’ is used, as it covers a whole family of species, from the relatively-tiddly and...

Tuna are for life, not just for lunch.

Blog entry by Karli Thomas | May 2, 2014

Tuna are awesome. We don’t get to say that enough, so since it’s World Tuna Day, I want to make amends. These fish are majestic ocean wanderers, who have earned their place in history, but today they are sadly the icons of global...

Enough is enough; we need to reclaim our seas and fisheries now

Blog entry by Duncan Williams | December 4, 2013

Greenpeace activists unfold a banner next to a cluster of foreign longline fishing vessels at a harbour in the Pacific reading “Fewer boats more fish WCPFC Act Now!” urging the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC)...

The "longline" of suffering and destruction

Blog entry by Sari Tolvanen | November 21, 2013

Tuna longline fisheries are one of the most scandalous fishing businesses on the planet, operating mostly out of sight and out of control. Longlining is the fishing method that catches the big valuable tunas aimed at fulfilling the...

More fish in the sea

Blog entry by Duncan Williams | November 18, 2013

Our Pacific oceans campaign is focused on ensuring sustainable and equitable fishing in the Pacific. ©Paul Hilton/Greenpeace   Fishing in the pacific is, quite simply put, unfair. Pacific island countries receive a...

Real pirates plunder and steal

Blog entry by Szabina Mozes | October 21, 2013

It is now more than 30 days since our ship was seized and our 30 friends and colleagues were arrested. They now face a charge of piracy — an absurd charge that carries a maximum 15 year jail sentence.  In the meantime pirate fishing...

Shark finning sucks. Sort it out New Zealand!

Blog entry by Willie Mackenzie | August 30, 2013

There’s nothing defensible about shark finning . It’s the marine equivalent of the poachers who kill rhinos to hack off their horns or kill elephants to hack off their tusks. It’s not dissimilar to killing bears or tigers for spurious...

The EnvironmentaLIST: The worst things the tuna industry does to our oceans

Blog entry by Cassady Sharp | August 13, 2013

When what you do is hundreds of miles from civilization, it’s pretty easy to get away with some messed up stuff.  The tuna industry in particular can reap the benefits of an “out of sight, out of mind” existence. Here are some of the...

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