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

 

Taiwan Fisheries Agency protest

Image | January 27, 2011 at 8:25

Kaoshiung, Taiwan - Greenpeace activists today protest in front of Taiwan's Fisheries Agency (FA) calling for efficient monitoring of Taiwanese-owned vessels, The activists displayed a banner saying "Too much talk, too little action" accompanied...

Rainbow Warrior crew take action in Taiwan to defend tuna

Feature story | January 25, 2011 at 7:33

Kaoshiung, Taiwan - A blacklisted tuna factory ship was blocked from leaving port today by Greenpeace climbers from the Rainbow Warrior. They locked themselves to the anchor chain while campaigners called on Taiwan's Fisheries Agency to...

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Fish decline forces name change on tuna tournament

Blog entry by Karli Thomas | January 24, 2011

You know things are dire when this happens ... the long running annual ‘Extreme Boats Open Tuna Tournament’ off Whakatane has this year been rebranded the ‘ Extreme Boats 20K-4 Ways Tournament .’ That’s because, unlike in the past, the...

Urgent protection needed for tuna

Image | January 21, 2011 at 8:00

Divers from Greenpeace and Taiwanese environmentalists form a mock-up school of tuna bearing the message "The Last Tuna?" at a Greenpeace organized activity in Pingtung County, Taiwan. Greenpeace is promoting marine protected areas around coastal...

Captain's Blog: The doors will open

Blog entry by Mike Finken | January 18, 2011

When actions are principally correct all the doors and weather windows open. Our stop in Green Island, has been a confirmation of that. The monsoon is wicked off Taiwan and has not stopped blowing this year and Green Island,...

Calling for Pacific marine reserves in Taiwan

Blog entry by Ronetava Ronaivakulu | January 18, 2011

Bula. My name is Ronetava Ronaivakulua (you can call me Ron) and I’m from an island in the South Pacific called Fiji. I'm currently onboard the Rainbow Warrior on its East Asia Ocean Defenders tour in Taiwan. I'm here as a...

Looking for tuna in Taiwan

Blog entry by Apple Chow | January 14, 2011

The ship has already left windy and rainy Keelung and we just arrived at the second stop of the Ocean Defenders East Asia tour , Su-ao in eastern Taiwan. Suao is the second largest tuna fishery port in Taiwan. At 7am the following...

A personal history with the Rainbow Warrior

Blog entry by Chris Hay | January 11, 2011

Last week we took the office staff from Greenpeace's new office in Taipei on the 3 hour train trip to Taiwan's eastern port of Hualien. The Rainbow Warrior was there doing some last minute maintenance before the start of the Ocean...

Defending our Pacific Ocean: Rainbow Warrior arrives in Taiwan

Blog entry by Sari Tolvanen | January 3, 2011

The new year has started with a big bang for Greenpeace and the oceans over here in East Asia and the Pacific. There's a pile of coinciding historical events including the 40th anniversary of Greenpeace, the final voyage of the...

Our man in Taiwan

Blog entry by Chris Hay | November 13, 2010

Hi. It’s Chris Hay reporting from Taiwan. I’m usually based in the New Zealand office but right now I’m working with my Greenpeace colleagues in the Taiwan office who are campaigning hard to make tuna fishing sustainable. Fishing is...

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