Pacific Tuna Hang in the Balance with Greenpeace Pushing on the Scales

by Phil Kline

December 7, 2010

Pacific Tuna Team

Last week, a global team of Greenpeace campaigners arrived in Honolulu to attend the 7th annual meeting of the western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting.

The WCPFC is the international treaty body that manages the tuna fisheries from a little west of Hawaii all the way to the Asian mainland and from 20 degrees north latitude to 20 degrees south latitude.

This is a really huge area of ocean and has the last still healthy tuna populations, of any of the world’s oceans, where about 60% of the current world’s tuna catch comes from. 

The scientists tell us the populations are going down fast here, like elsewhere, overfishing is taking its toll and unless the WCPFC takes some strong conservation measures immediately these tuna populations will end up like all the rest – depleted – leaving another big hole in our oceans ecosystem and the people that depend on them for both food security and income high and dry. It’s not too late to turn this situation around and that’s why we’re here.

Our Pacifc tuna team, comprised of ocean campaigners like myself from New Zealand, Fiji, Australia, Taiwan, Japan and Finland have all come to Honolulu to continue our fight to save the Pacific tuna. We want to let the Commission members and particularly the US delegation know people care about the health of the ocean and it’s wildlife, including tuna.

Thursday, we headed over to the O’Neil Triple Crown World Championship surfing competition as Sunset beach on Hawaii’s famous north shore to see what the surfers think about healthy oceans and if possible get them to speak out. Just as we suspected, surfers have a boundless love of the ocean and once they learned from us the dismal state of the Pacifc tunas they were happy to lend their voices to the cause.

Pro Surfer
Greenpeace ocean campaigners talking with Brazilian pro surfer and O’Neil Sunset Beach champion Raoni Montreio  

We ended up getting interviews with several of them where their passion for the ocean can only be described as worship. Both the woman’s champion and the men’s champion of the Sunset beach competition gave us great impassioned interviews to share with the commission and the media to spread the call to save Pacific tuna. Tyler Wright a 16 year old from Australia (first time winner) and Raoni Montiero from Brazil (first time a Brazilian has won Sunset in 19 years) took the time from their well deserved celebrations to let us video them and let me tell the pure joy and excitement they were feeling right after winning infected us all – thank you Tyler and Raoni.

Next we went back to Honolulu to see how people along Waikiki beach felt about healthy oceans. We joined up with our Frontline street canvassers right on the main drag of Waikiki  in front of the ‘Duke’ statue. Duke is the native Hawaiian that brought surfing to the rest of us decades ago. Together with our Frontline team on the sidewalk we collected several hundred signatures on a petition asking the WCPFC to save Pacific tuna in only a couple of hours. I will be delivering these petitions to the US delegation at the meeting this week. Along with the paper signatures we have also posted a cyber action so you too can show your support for saving Pacific tuna. Our Frontline team ROCKS and it was my pleasure to meet and work with them on the streets of  Honolulu.

Banner hang
Greenpeace activists with tuna banner at the Aloha Tower Honolulu

We did get great media coverage in the Honolulu Star Advertiser the pre-eminent newspaper here photos and all! The Star Advertiser was distributed to all of the rooms at the convention hotel where the WCPFC is being held and so all of the delegates to the WCPFC had a nice Greenpeace welcome this morning.

Now it’s time for our Pacific tuna team to work the WCPFC meeting and help our Pacific island friends save Pacifc tuna…

All photos taken by Phil Kline

Phil Kline

By Phil Kline

Phil is a senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace USA. He is a recognized expert on oceans policy domestically and internationally, and has represented Greenpeace U.S. at International Whaling Commission (IWC) meetings and Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meetings around the globe.

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