Greenpeace pushes for stronger tuna conservation and management measures in WCPFC

Press release - December 1, 2017
01 December 2017, Manila, Philippines – On the event of the 14th Annual Meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) happening in Manila on December 2-7, 2017, Greenpeace said the body must agree on conservation and management measures that will ensure recovery of exploited fish populations, such as tuna, to abundant levels.

The Conservation and Management Measure for bigeye, yellowfin and skipjack tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (CMM 2016-01), also known as the Tropical Tuna Measure (TTM), is due to expire and is being renegotiated this year at WCPFC in December. Greenpeace said they want to see the following in place: that purse seiners should agree on a strong reduction in  the numbers of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs), and strong measures for reporting and transparency in FAD use; better monitoring, control and surveillance of longliners; and adoption of stock specific target and limit reference points and management strategies.

“Despite recent commitments in the right direction[1] and with some members of the industry taking steps to address overfishing, illegal fishing, and slavery at sea, it is the obligation of the WCPFC to ensure that the reforms should be felt at sea by coming up with stronger conservation measures. This can be done by agreeing on priority measures around data collection, management of fishing capacity including on FADs, conserving fish stocks, MCS including transshipments, and harvest control rules,” said Vince Cinches, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines.

Recent reports done by Greenpeace have exposed human rights violations under the purview of WCPFC.[2] While the Measure does not specifically address human rights, banning transshipment at sea and having strong monitoring, control and surveillance measures will go a long way to address problems that hound the fishing industry and its workers. There is enough evidence demonstrating the existence of illicit transshipments, however, there are no consequences for those breaking the rules. Any violation detected in transshipment must result in the loss of authorization.
Greenpeace also calls on more stringent measures on data collection and harvest control rules and target and limit reference points.

“The country delegations to this year’s meeting should agree to ensure that work on establishing further target and limit reference points and harvest strategies for all tuna and shark stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean continues and is well resourced and funded, consistent with proposed timelines. They should ensure the finalization of a harvest control rule in the skipjack purse seine fishery and the urgent implementation of interim precautionary reference points for South Pacific albacore, bigeye and yellowfin tunas,” Cinches said.

While current stock assessments indicate that main tuna species are not currently overfished or suffering overfishing, there are strong reasons to be cautious, the group said.  Greenpeace said important uncertainties in the stock assessments should be included and the assessment should clear about whether recent improvements on some stocks have been due to environmental conditions, management measures or other factors. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [3] has already assessed pacific bluefin and bigeye tuna as vulnerable and yellowfin and albacore as near threatened.

A total of 4,509 vessels are registered at the WCPFC where 67.64% are longliners, 12.62% are  purse seiners while only 2.22% are pole and line. The top 6 countries which make up 85% of the fleet fishing in the WCPO are Chinese Taipei, Japan, China, Philippines, US and Korea [4].
“The commission meeting in Manila should go all out in saving our tuna, and should cease to be a club of governments and industry who are there to block urgent tuna conservation measures.  We also urge the Philippine Government as the host country to take necessary leadership for stronger tropical tuna measures. This is the second time that the commission meeting is hosted by the Philippine government, and we hope that this time they will side with the future of the tuna stocks in the Pacific,” Cinches said.

Notes to the Editors:

[1] Greenpeace and Thai Union Group Summary of Commitments.

[2] Supply Chained. Human rights abuses in the global fishing industry.

[3] IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Media Contact:
Vince Cinches - Oceans and Political Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines
| (+63) 949 889 1336
Angelica Carballo Pago – Media Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines
| (+63) 949 889 1332