Pacific tuna, our next mission

Feature story - 5 September, 2006
"If we do not want to see Pacific tuna go the same way as Atlantic cod, and Pacific livelihoods destroyed; we need to immediately halve the fishing effort and the amount of tuna being caught, end pirate fishing, and create a network of marine reserves – national parks at sea."-- Fijian Lagi Toribau, chief campaigner on board the Esperanza.

Workers on a Taiwanese purse seiner trans-ship yellow fin tuna and skipjack tuna to a reefer (refrigerator) ship. As fisheries collapse in other parts of the world, countries are moving their fishing fleets into the Pacific.

The next leg of the Defending Our Oceans expedition takes the Esperanzainto the island dotted vastness of the Pacific.  In an area ofwater Planet's total landmass combined; the crew will highlight theproblems of tuna overfishing, and pirate fishing.  More than halfthe tuna consumed worldwide comes from here.  Yet, our researchwarns that Pacific Bigeye tuna and Yellowfin tuna will be criticallyoverfished within three years.

The money and the tuna

"Weare sucking the oceans dry," continued Toribau.  "Unless drasticaction is taken now then Bigeye and Yellowfin face commercialextinction within three years, and then all we will see is empty nets.Instead of taking responsibility for overfishing their own waters, richindustrialised nations, are moving into other areas, such as thePacific. Travelling thousands of miles, they use boats that can take asmuch in 2 days, as our local fleets can take in a year."

In thePacific, foreign fishing fleets from distant countries such as Japan,USA, Taiwan, China, Philippines and the EU take 90 percent of the tunacatch, and 95 percent of the US$2 billion the fish is worth on theglobal market. Pirate fishing, illegal, unreported and unregulatedfishing, is also rife in the region. Pirates give nothing back andleave a trail of environmental destruction in their wake.

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