Another tuna commission fails to protect the world's favourite fish - Greenpeace calls for retailer responsibility

Press release - 7 December, 2007
Greenpeace served tunaless sushi to the delegates of the 4th session of the West and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (1) as the meeting failed to agree any new effective conservation measures to ensure the long-term survival of the region's bigeye and yellowfin tuna stocks.

"Despite the strong front presented by Pacific Island countries, resistance from Japan, China, Chinese Taipei and Korea meant that the Commission failed to take effective measures to cut the catch of the threatened tuna stocks." said Lagi Toribau, Greenpeace Australia-Pacific Oceans Campaigner.

These 'distant water' fishing nations blatantly disregarded the advice given to them by their scientists pointing out the need to drastically reduce the catch or face the consequences of an impending fishery collapse despite also the strong economic reasons of doing so (2).

"Coming in the wake of the failure by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (3) to take action to protect the endangered bluefin tuna in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, it is now clear that if left to their own devices the fishing industry will destroy the world's remaining tuna stocks for short-term profit." said Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International Oceans Campaigner in Guam. "Tuna is central to both the economies and the livelihoods of the Pacific Island countries. The outcome of this meeting puts their long-term economic survival under threat," continued Tolvanen.

"Political action is failing the world's favourite fish and Greenpeace is now calling for retailers around the world to take responsibility and stop the sale of the three most endangered tuna species, bluefin, bigeye and yellowfin. Greenpeace is encouraging retailers to work with developing coastal states for sources of sustainable and equitable tuna products instead," said Tolvanen.

One positive note at the meeting was a visionary proposal tabled by Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands calling for the creation of marine reserves in three large high seas areas, which would close them to all fishing. While the proposal was not adopted, it is now on the table.  Greenpeace is calling for 40% of the global high seas to be protected as no-take marine reserves in order to reverse the decline of biodiversity and fish stocks in our oceans.

Other contacts: Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International Oceans Campaigner, in GuamLagi Toribau, Greenpeace Australia-Pacific Oceans Campaigner, in GuamBoth available on +16716866051

Notes: (1) The Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission is the Regional Fisheries Management Organisation mandated to manage the long-term conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish stocks in the western and central Pacific Ocean in accordance with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.(2) Economic models have shown that effort reduction in the number of fishing vessels in the Pacific is a key for increasing the profitability of the industry as well as a key for the long-term sustainability of the fishery.(3) The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas is charged with the management of fisheries for tuna and tuna-like species -including albacore, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, skipjack tuna and swordfish- throughout the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.