Pohnpei, Micronesia, August 19, 2013 - Pacific tuna stocks are experiencing further decline and current management measures are failing to restore stocks, a ten-day meeting of the Scientific Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission has concluded.
“The outcome of the meeting demonstrates that there are simply too many industrial fishing vessels plundering the Pacific, using highly destructive fishing techniques that have wide and damaging impacts on the ecosystem,” said Dr. Cat Dorey, Greenpeace Coordinator for the International Sustainable Seafood Programme.
“The Pacific region’s most valuable tuna, the Pacific bluefin, is now down to just four per cent of its original stock size and other tuna stocks are at risk of following this catastrophic decline unless urgent management action is taken.”
Previously healthy stocks, such as South Pacific albacore, are now generating concern as stocks are declining and the economic viability of the fisheries is suffering.
With the meeting in Micronesia ending yesterday, the Scientific Committee also found that the number of purse seine vessels in the fishery was at an all-time high and catches for bigeye in 2012 were the highest in eight years. This is despite a commitment by members five years ago to halt and reverse the impacts on this troubled stock.
“Destructive fishing techniques that employ fish aggregation devices with purse seine nets continue to raze fish populations, in particular vulnerable juvenile yellowfin and bigeye stocks. A ban on these devices is urgent and overdue,” continued Dr. Dorey.
The Pacific region’s shark species are also at critically low levels, being caught in huge numbers as bycatch in both longline and purse seine fisheries.
Greenpeace Pacific Oceans Campaigner, Duncan Williams said, “If Pacific nations are to have fish and livelihoods in the future there is a pressing need for urgent sharp reductions to fishing efforts and capacity, plus the adoption of sustainable fishing techniques.”
Greenpeace urges Pacific Island governments to lead by example and transform the tuna sector with homegrown sustainable fisheries that can ensure equitable returns.