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

 

Would the real tuna please stand up

Blog entry by Phil Crawford | August 10, 2011

When is a tuna not a tuna? Unfortunately too often in the Pacific where widely-used industrial tuna fishing methods catch far more species than just tuna. Out on the water everything becomes tuna. That is until it’s been hauled on...

Victory! John West changes its tuna

Blog entry by Simon Clydesdale and Karli Thomas | July 29, 2011

Our international campaign to clean up tinned tuna has had another victory! After more than 51,000 emails, a lot of negotiation and some interesting stickering initiatives , John West is the last of the major UK players to shift to...

Defending our Pacific with the new team in Korea

Blog entry by Lagi Toribau | June 29, 2011

It is without a doubt that our oceans are an integral part of human survival and crucial to how Mother Nature goes about her business on a day-to-day basis and maintains. After all, 80% of all the life on Earth lies beneath the surface...

Happy world oceans day!

Blog entry by Karli Thomas | June 8, 2011

We have a very happy school of sharks here in Wellington today, happy to hear the news from local retailer Foodstuffs (New World, Pak'n'Save and Four Square supermarkets) that they are shifting to more sustainable sources across most...

Sealord puts logo ahead of contents

Blog entry by Karli Thomas | June 1, 2011

So Sealord is changing its logo? It seems its brand identity is so important that it’s only concerned by what appears on the outside of its tuna cans and not what’s filling them.  Sealord doesn’t go out and catch its own tuna in the...

Progress for our oceans: UK retailer gives tuna a break and US supermarkets are ranked

Blog entry by Steve Smith | April 13, 2011

Credit: Alex Hofford/Greenpeace Tuna caught in the Pacific Ocean Great news! UK retailer Morrisons  has announced a new policy on tinned tuna, committing to stop sourcing fish caught via destructive fishing methods: this means...

You did it! Princes will indeed change their tuna, and so will Asda

Blog entry by Jamie | March 10, 2011

All rights reserved . Credit: Greenpeace/Kristian Buus Big news from the UK. It's with enormous pleasure that I can reveal that Princes has (finally) got the message that bycatch is killing the oceans and has announced...

Snapper, smarter than your average tuna?

Blog entry by Phil Crawford | March 9, 2011

Surprise. Tuna could learn a thing or two from stay at home snapper. How smart are fish – really? There may be a wide gulf between species when it comes to the brain power of our fishy friends. Pacific tuna, it seems, can be so...

International Unsustainable Overfishing

Blog entry by Sari Tolvanen | March 7, 2011

Skipjack tuna and bycatch caught in the eastern Pacific using a Fish Aggregation Device (FAD) in 2009. Despite the crisis facing our oceans , we often hear excuses from industry players: telling us that we do not need urgent...

Skipjack tuna is cheap and plentiful... or is it?

Blog entry by Jamie Woolley, Greenpeace UK | March 3, 2011

Tuna fishing in the eastern Pacific Of all the tuna species, skipjack is seen as the most plentiful and the most sustainable. The speed with which it reproduces and matures has meant stocks are more resilient to our industrial...

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