Greenpeace declared the outcome of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission a failed compromise – one which is too weak to stop the overfishing of the Pacific bigeye and yellowfin tuna – but applauds the positive decision to close two of the high seas areas between Pacific Island Countries to purse seine fishing starting in 2010. The Commission will also consider the closure of the third such area in 2009. Greenpeace has been campaigning for these areas to be designated as marine reserves in order to support sustainable fisheries, protect Pacific marine life and to end pirate fishing in the region.
"The Commission failed to reduce fishing to what scientists say
is needed to preserve marine ecosystems, but a strong effort by the
U.S. delegation was key to getting vital protections for high seas
areas," John Hocevar, Greenpeace Oceans Campaign Director in the
Scientists have been warning since 2001 that bigeye and
yellowfin stocks in the Pacific are in decline and recommended a
minimum of 30 percent fishing reduction for 2009. Yet the
Commission only agreed to a compromise measure to cut fishing on
bigeye with a range of measures including a 10 percent reduction in
The fishing industry resisted moves to ensure the long-term
sustainability of the fishery, despite strong economic reasons to
do so. Recent studies indicate that the fishing industry is
undermining its own profits by having too many fishing vessels on
the water and by depleting stocks to the point that fish are harder
to catch. Greenpeace called for a precautionary 50 percent
reduction to be implemented in order to ensure both the long term
sustainability and profitability of the fishery.
"A handful of fishing nations are sending entire species into
oblivion. Consensus-based decision making ensured that many
decisions here were diluted to the lowest common denominator of
agreement. Short term interests ruled. And the needs of the Pacific
Island States, whose livelihoods and economies depend on tuna, have
been relegated to a minority voice," said Lagi Toribau, Greenpeace
Australia Pacific Oceans Campaigner.
Overfishing in the Pacific has become so bad that several
fishing industry representatives in the meeting actually called
fishing nations to follow the advice of scientists and reduce
"The political process is still unwilling to follow the
science. If the industry wants to ensure fish for the future,
Greenpeace is calling on retailers and fish purchasers to stop
buying all overfished bluefin, bigeye and yellowfin tuna as well as
skipjack caught using fish aggregation devices," said Sari Tolvanen
of Greenpeace International.
Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of fully
protected marine reserves covering 40 percent of our oceans to
protect our seas from the ravages of climate change, to restore the
health of fish stocks and prevent habitat destruction. Greenpeace
has been campaigning for tuna protection in Korea with the Korean
Federation for the Environmental Movement.
VVPR info: Contacts: Jane Kochersperger, Media Officer, Greenpeace, (202) 680-3798; John Hocevar, Oceans Campaign Director, (512) 577-3868