The Greenpeace ship Esperanza, campaigning to end the
destruction of the world's oceans, encountered the Koyu Maru 3
hauling its longline and catching tuna within Cook Islands waters,
where they have no license to fish (1). Greenpeace provided the
Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources and the Fisheries Agency
of Japan with photographic evidence of the illegal activity.
Greenpeace demands that the Japanese government order Koyu Maru
3, which is owned by Tokyo-based World Tuna Co Ltd., to stop its
illegal fishing activities and sail to the nearest port for further
"The Koyu Maru 3 and other pirate fishing vessels are stealing
fish for their own profit, depriving the people of the Cook Islands
of a vital source of income. These pirates of the Pacific must be
stopped from plundering ocean life and robbing local communities,"
said Karli Thomas Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner on
board the Esperanza.
Globally, more than US $9 billion dollars is lost each year to
pirate fishing fleets. Pirate fishers, who reap their profits in
European, American and Asian markets, are threatening fish stocks
as well as depriving coastal communities of much-needed income. A
recent report estimated that pirate fishing in the Pacific
accounted for an average of 36% of its total fisheries, much higher
than the global average of 19% (2).
"The government of Japan must show leadership in tackling
illegal fishing by its vessels in the Pacific. Furthermore, Japan
must take the lead among major fishing nations and support efforts
by Pacific countries to reduce fishing activities in the region by
half and close all four pockets of international waters to fishing
to allow tuna stocks to recover."
Long-liners like the Koyu Maru 3 mainly target bigeye, yellowfin
and albacore tuna, destined for sashimi markets in Japan and other
countries where this food has become popular. Scientists have
warned that some Pacific tuna stocks, such as bigeye and yellowfin
tuna, are being fished beyond their limits (3). Pirate fishing
further threatens the stocks and undermines conservation and
management attempts in the region.
Parts of the international waters in the Pacific, which are
governed by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission
(WCPFC), are known to be especially vulnerable to pirate fishing,
as previous Greenpeace expeditions have demonstrated. In May this
year, Pacific countries agreed to support the closure of the four
pockets of international waters located in between their economic
zones to all fishing activities (4). These areas are the final
refuge for dwindling tuna stocks. In December, the WCPFC, of which
Japan is a member, can finally decide to close all four pockets of
international waters and, in doing so, be recognised as a global
leader in oceans conservation.
The Esperanza's "Defending Our Pacific" tour is part of an
international campaign for clean and healthy oceans through the
creation of a global network of marine reserves and effective
enforcement of laws that protect ocean life. Greenpeace is
campaigning for a global network of fully protected marine
reserves, covering 40% of our oceans. Healthy oceans can also play
a vital role in building resilience against the devastating effects
of climate change.
Other contacts: Karli Thomas, Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner on board the Esperanza, +4751407988
Arthur Dionio, Greenpeace International communications on board the Esperanza, +4751407988
Notes: 1) The Koyu Maru 3 is not on the register of vessels licensed to fish in the waters of the Cook Islands, according to the Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources.
2) Marine Resource Assessment Group (MRAG) and the University of British Columbia (2008) “The global extent of illegal fishing”.
3) Scientists have warned since 2001 that bigeye and yellowfin tuna are being fished beyond their limits, and in August this year the scientists of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission agreed that a 34-50% reduction in fishing was needed to protect stocks.
4) The pockets of international waters identified by Greenpeace as needing protection as marine reserves lie between Pacific Island country national waters - a map showing their locations is available at: www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/oceans/marine-reserves/pacific-tuna-need-marine-reserves
Exp. contact date: 2009-11-10 00:00:00