Setting the limits on Western and Central Pacific tuna fisheries

9th Regular Session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC 9)

Page - November 28, 2012
This year’s annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) has the important task of putting in place new, more effective conservation and management measures (CMMs) to correct past mistakes and return the tuna fisheries of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) to sustainability and economic viability for the long-term. The failure of parties to this Commission to negotiate and implement an effective replacement CMM for bigeye and yellowfin tuna at its 8th Annual Session in Guam must not be repeated. Greenpeace urges that the Commission take into account first and foremost the precautionary approach when deliberating over new conservation and management measures for tuna and other species. The future consequences of our failure to act effectively today must not be underestimated.

 

It is important to note that the current reference points used by the WCPFC for determining the‘relative health’ of tuna fisheries – the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and the correspondingbiomass (BMSY) and fishing rate (FMSY) – should be, at best, treated as limit reference points (to beavoided) according to the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries1 and UN Fish Stocks Agreement2. The Commission’s science provider (SPC-OFP) notes that: “given the uncertainties inassessing stock status and natural stock variability, practical experience and scientific analysis hasshown that treating FMSY as a target often results in depletion of fish stocks, and that recovery fromover-depletion is difficult. The use of MSY as a target is also often sub-optimal economically.”

Greenpeace calls on WCPFC9 to follow the precautionary approach and adopt the followingcombination of measures in order to reduce fishing mortality of bigeye by 50% and reduce thethreat of overfishing to yellowfin, skipjack, and albacore tuna including other vulnerable andendangered species in the region.

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