PNA blasts overfishing nations

The Western and Central Pacific Commission (WCPFC) meeting closed today with a temporary measure that allows big fishing nations to continue to overfish bigeye
tuna, said the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA).

The PNA manages the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery — 50 percent of the world’s skipjack tuna, the most commonly canned tuna, comes from its waters. While skipjack tuna is fished at sustainable levels, bigeye tuna, a popular sashimi fish is overfished — a problem caused by catching juvenile fish around Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) and longline fishing vessel catch by the big fishing nations such as EU, US, Japan and the other Asian nations.

Each year the WCPFC brings together the Pacific Island countries and the big fishing nations to meet and decide rules for fishing of tuna throughout the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, the world’s largest tuna fishery. The meeting closed today having decided a new conservation and management measure on tuna which will be applied until the end of 2013. The meeting also banned setting nets on whale sharks in the waters from 20 degrees South to 30 degrees North.

PNA Chair Nanette Malsol said: “This year at the tuna commission meeting, PNA was successful in getting a ban on setting fishing nets around whale sharks and in getting the commission to ‘flick the switch’ so Pacific countries can see all fishing vessels in their waters that are on the commission vessel monitoring system which
closes a loophole for illegal fishing.”

“However, the big fishing nations did not make any significant commitments to cut their overfishing of bigeye tuna. It is the big fishing nations of the EU, US, Japan and Asian nations that have historically overfished bigeye tuna, it is their longline fishing vessels that are responsible for much of the catch of adult bigeye tuna which is still fished 40 percent over the sustainable level.”

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