With more than 7,000 islands the Philippines has a coastline longer than the United States. We are surrounded by water, in fact more than 2 million square kilometers. A majority the Philippine population eat fish, with 80% of animal protein intake coming from the ocean.  One would think that as a maritime nation we would have more sense to take care of the water around us.  So why are our oceans in such a sorry state? 

Less than 5% of our reefs are in pristine condition, many of our fisheries stocks have either collapsed or are collapsing.  The stories are everywhere… Just ask a fisherman who goes out at night to earn a living, the market vendor that relies on a steady cheap supply of fresh fish, the person who buys the fish to eat in your house.  There is too little fish left in the ocean. 

According to the Bureau of Fisheries, marine catches have been declining since the 1980s.  The most dramatic decline is visible in the once abundant Philippine tuna stocks. There are now too many fishermen chasing too few fish and we now have to increasingly depend on imports or resort to fishing farther and farther away. 

You can now find Philippine fishing fleets as far away as Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, plunking floating devices in the high seas that attract fish or fish aggregating devices or FADs. These FADs not only catch the target tuna species but also other animals such as  younger tuna and sometimes birds, turtles, sharks and even whales. 

Unbelievably, slow moving large marine animals including whale sharks are considered as FADs, and some fishing boats set nets around them to catch the tuna underneath!

 

Right now, leaders from around the Pacific and elsewhere are meeting in Guam to decide the fate of tuna in the Pacific. 

The Philippine government and industry is leading the call to open the high seas pockets to FAD fishing again, which was closed 3 years ago as a conservation measure to help protect some tuna from being overfished.

Greenpeace is asking that instead of opening up the high seas pockets that we close them permanently to all types of fishing so that the stocks can recover and replenish other areas where fishing is happening.

We are also asking the leaders to support the immediate ban of purse seine fishing on cetaceans and whale sharks.  

We need your help in making sure that our leaders know that we are watching them and are concerned about the future of our fish and oceans.