Greenpeace proposes rescue plan to halt tuna rip-off

Press release - 19 December, 2007
The scale of global tuna fisheries should immediately be halved, argues Greenpeace International, if declining stocks are to recover while at the same time ensuring the long-term profitability of the industry.

In a new report, released today, the environmental group also presents recommendations for improving the profitability of developing nations' own fisheries and ending access agreements through which the fishing industry exploits coastal nations.

"Tuna stocks are in trouble in every ocean," said Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner. "Unless there is urgent action to halt this decline, the world's favourite fish will become a luxury item that only the elite can afford to eat. This would have severe impacts on food security and people's livelihoods, particularly in developing countries."

Tuna fisheries have been thrown into crisis after the big tuna fishing nations of Japan, Taiwan, Korea and the European Union ignored clear scientific advice and failed during two recent international meetings to take effective action to halt overfishing of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic or to address the decline of bigeye and yellowfin tuna in the Pacific.

In "Taking Tuna Out of the Can: a rescue plan for the world's favourite fish

", Greenpeace argues that the huge overcapacity in the world's tuna fleets is destroying the economic basis of tuna fisheries, as well as their sustainability. The solution is a network of marine reserves protecting 40 percent of the world's oceans, and agreements to reduce fishing effort and the number of fishing vessels by 50 percent to improve the industry's economics, according to Greenpeace.

"At the moment everyone is struggling to fill their holds. Without drastic decisions to halve the effort used to fish for tuna in the Pacific, the tuna industry is on a one-way trip to oblivion," continued Tolvanen.

Greenpeace has also analysed the access agreements made between big fishing nations and the coastal states where tuna is primarily caught. With around 95 percent of the profits leaving the region where tuna is caught, Greenpeace believes the agreements are grossly unfair to coastal developing states.

"For coastal States, access agreements are the same as having someone pay a single entry fee to shop in your store, take whatever they like, come back repeatedly all year and then leave when they are done," according to Tolvanen. "Coastal States would be much better off if they developed their own sustainable fishing industries rather than sell their resources and livelihoods at knock-down prices," she said.

Other contacts: Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner.Tel: +31655125480