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

 

Pole and Line

Feature story | December 14, 2012 at 15:14

Ali Saeed, master fisherman, operates one of the largest 'dhoni' fishing boats from the island of Hulhumeedhoo in the Addu atoll. He inherited his first fishing boat from his father 25 years ago while aged just 20. His island community, home to 4...

Tuna Tuesday triumphs

Blog entry by Phil Crawford | December 4, 2012

This Tuesday is turning out to be big day of our tuna campaign. This morning John West joined the global movement to phase out destructive tuna fishing methods and this evening a one hour documentary on our campaign to halt the...

The Esperanza's back in the Pacific

Blog entry by Farah Obaidullah | November 8, 2012

The sun has just set on my first day back on board the Greenpeace ship, the Esperanza. It’s been six years since I last sailed on the Esperanza for our Pacific fisheries campaign and I am glad to see how much the campaign has evolved...

The fairest catch - pole and line tuna

Blog entry by Andrea Rid | November 7, 2012

Today, I caught a tuna. It was the first fish I had ever caught in my life. And the first tuna that had to die because of me for a long time. I haven't eaten tuna for about three years. Not because I don't like the taste of it...

Illegal Fishing Vessels Found in Chagos Marine Reserve

Blog entry by Andrea Rid | October 25, 2012

Greenpeace has found two illegal Sri Lankan fishing boats inside the Chagos marine reserve and has called on the UK government to enforce protection of this Indian Ocean reserve from pirate fishing. Our flagship Rainbow...

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...

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