Drowning Islands & Stolen Fish – is this THE END?

by Kate Smolski

December 8, 2007

After a week of negotiations WCPFC with over 360 people from many corners of the planet you would think that we would be able to come to at least SOME agreements on how we’re going to save the Pacific yellow fin and big eye tuna stocks right? Perhaps it was just me being naive but I was really expecting SOMETHING to happen. After endless days inside a huge room without windows and lots of serious people in suits, the two most valuable tuna species in the Pacific are no closer to recovery than they were before. The reduction in fishing effort that the scientists were recommending was totally ignored by Japan, China, Taiwan and Korea with Japan leading the pack and earning themselves not one but two "tuna destroyer" Greenpeace awards.

Yet again shortsighted economics continue to rule the day putting the environment, fish stocks, Pacific Island economies and the fishing industry itself at risk. This fisheries commission is now failing miserably just like all the others and as you can tell, I’m pretty frustrated about it! I came here with high hopes and of seeing measures get adopted that would ensure the sustainability of the last tuna frontier in the world. Tuna is very important to Pacific island economies and the last thing they need in addition to dealing with the effects of climate change is to have their fish stocks crash!

I have actually been dreading writing this update because it felt like all I had was bad news but there is a light shining at the end of this tunnel because the Greenpeace oceans team, as usual has a few tricks left up their sleeve 🙂

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 and this at least something we can celebrate. But the global politics of failing tuna management leaves the world no other option but to mobilize market forces. Greenpeace is now calling for retailers across the world to stop selling bluefin, bigeye and yellowfin tuna originating from illegal, unsustainable and unfair fisheries. The Pacific Islands livelihoods and economies that depend on this core resource will not be held ransom to consensus decision-making anymore. So there IS hope and although this flight wont be easy, having met the folks working on this campaign and seeing what they are capable of, I remain positive about the future of the Pacific.

I’ve created a photo set on my Flickr account so that you can get an idea about the kind of things we got up to at the meeting.

As the sun sets on Guam, this is SheSeeMe the disappointed but hopeful big eye signing off.


— Lisa


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