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

 

Two ships, one vision for our oceans

Blog entry by Steve Smith, Greenpeace International | October 14, 2012

Thousands of miles apart, two Greenpeace ships propelled our global oceans campaign forward today. This morning in Taiwan – home to the world’s largest tuna fishing fleet – Greenpeace activists took action at the largest...

Sealord stuck in the mud

Blog entry by Catherine Cassidy | July 11, 2012

I have a long history of doing daft things. I also have a long history of a doing whatever I can to protect our precious marine life. So, when I heard Sealord was one of the sponsors of the Tough Guy ‘n' Gal challenge at the weekend, I...

It’s time for fewer tuna fishing boats, not empty promises

Blog entry by Sari Tolvanen | June 14, 2012

There is consensus. Too many big tuna fishing boats are chasing declining tuna populations. Environmentalists know this; the tuna industry knows it and governments, scientists and fishermen know that if we want fish tomorrow, we...

World Oceans Day: Just part of our life every day #worldoceansday

Blog entry by Karli Thomas | June 8, 2012

Today is World Oceans Day, the day we celebrate all that the oceans give us. They provide humankind with food, jobs and the oxygen we breathe. If we are to survive on this planet, we need living oceans. However, decades of overfishing,...

We need fewer boats, more fish to save our oceans

Blog entry by Mark Dia | May 28, 2012

I’m here in Bangkok at a gathering of hundreds of tuna business officials , policy-makers and even a few environmental advocates like myself. It’s been a long week of discussion about the future of the industry, including a lot...

Tweeting up a storm for tuna at the WCPFC

Blog entry by Nathaniel Pelle | March 30, 2012

Yesterday in Guam we spent much of the morning discussing the WCPFC’s Technical and Compliance Committee’s Provisional Monitoring Report from their 7 th regular session on Surveillance and zzzzzz…….  If you didn’t fall asleep during...

International pressure on tuna commission in Guam

Blog entry by YuFen Kao, Greenpeace East Asia | March 28, 2012

I’m here at the Pacific Tuna Commission, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission annual meeting in Guam.  We’re one day into the meeting and the delegates are deep in discussion over important conservation measures ...

Changing Tuna

Publication | March 26, 2012 at 9:04

The global tuna industry is undergoing a period of rapid transformation.

Working to keep pirates and overfishing out of my backyard

Blog entry by Lagi Toribau | March 25, 2012

Tuna is the lifeline for many Pacific island communities - a source of income, jobs and food. That’s why, as a Pacific islander and someone who has been working on oceans conservation for over a decade, I am still very angry at the...

Our leaders can and should save the Pacific tuna next week

Blog entry by Duncan Williams, Greenpeace Australia | March 20, 2012

Ocean stewardship in the Pacific has come a long way. Ask a Pacific islander fifty years ago about managing fish and you would have been greeted with a look of bemusement. After all, fish back in the day were thought of as unlimited...

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