Optimism for deal to lower Pacific tuna catches

Dec 05, 2013
Workers clean tuna fish for export at the port in General Santos City, on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on December 2, 2012

Conservationists and fishing industry representatives expressed confidence Thursday they were close to agreement on cutbacks in the lucrative tuna fishing industry in the Pacific.

Amid fears about the depletion rate of , there have been calls for action to reduce catches at a week-long meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) which wraps up in the northern Australian city of Cairns on Friday.

"Negotiations are progressing rather than stalling on some of the more difficult proposals at this mid-point in the talks," said Amanda Nickson, the Pew Environment Group's director for global tuna conservation.

However, she cautioned there were "a number of issues yet to be resolved, such as how big the quota cuts should be and who should take them".

A record 2.65 million tonnes of tuna was hauled from the Pacific last year, accounting for 60 percent of the global catch, with most of the fishing conducted by so-called "distant water" fleets from as far afield as Europe, the United States, China, South Korea and Taiwan.

Eight Pacific island nations, members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, along with Japan and the Philippines, want to reduce the catch of bigeye and over the next four years.

Yellow fin tuna stacked up in a shipping container after being off-loaded from a fishing ship in Avarua on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands on August 31, 2012

But objections from the "distant water" fleets meant a modified proposal was now being worked on, said Brian Hallman, executive director of the American Tunaboat Association, which represents about 40 US-flagged purse seine fishing vessels.

"At this stage, there is not a clear consensus on a solution which would be acceptable to all members," Hallman said.

"However, it does seem that the meeting is moving towards a consensus on limiting, or freezing, the number of purse seine vessels allowed to fish from countries that are not Pacific island nations.

"This would be a major accomplishment, and is an encouraging development."

The WCPFC has a mix of 25 members, ranging from small Niue (population 1,200) to the European Union. It makes decisions by consensus, which critics say makes it difficult to get anything done.

It has been unable to reach agreement for several years on tuna cutbacks despite warnings from scientists of over-fishing.

An international independent assessment has found stocks of , prized by sushi lovers, have fallen dramatically, with juveniles forming the majority of specimens now being caught, pushing the species closer to extinction.

As a result, another sushi favourite, , is now coming under severe pressure, while catches of skipjack and yellowfin , which are canned, have also been steadily rising.

Explore further: PacifiCorp Energy pleads guilty in bird deaths (Update)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Showdown looms for lucrative tuna industry

Dec 01, 2013

The future of the world's largest tuna fishery will be decided at a meeting in Australia this week, with Pacific island nations demanding tighter controls on a catch now worth US$7.0 billion a year.

Pacific nations agree to cut bluefin tuna catches

Sep 05, 2013

Asia-Pacific fishing nations and territories agreed on Thursday to cut catches of young bluefin tuna by 15 percent, with an agreement environmentalists said would not stop overfishing.

Time 'running out' to save tuna stocks

Aug 26, 2013

Time is running out to save some species of tuna from overfishing, environmental groups warned Monday, calling for Japan to take the lead in reducing the global catch.

Overfishing threatens Pacific tuna

Dec 02, 2012

Asia-Pacific fishing experts on Sunday warned against depleting tuna stocks, saying the region needs to reduce its catch of the vulnerable bigeye species by 30 percent.

Atlantic tuna quotas unchanged for 2014

Nov 25, 2013

Annual fishing quotas for bluefin tuna in the East Atlantic and Mediterranean will remain unchanged in 2014, an international meeting on tuna fishing decided Monday, despite stiff opposition from Japan.

Big nations block curbs on tuna overfishing

Dec 06, 2012

Efforts to curb overfishing of tuna in the Pacific were blocked by big countries that refused to cut their catch at a meeting of tuna-fishing nations in the Asia-Pacific, delegates said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Study finds tropical fish moving into temperate waters

Dec 19, 2014

Tropical herbivorous fish are beginning to expand their range into temperate waters – likely as a result of climate change – and a new international study documents the dramatic impact of the intrusion ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.