Pacific nations resist US push to lift tuna quota

December 11, 2018
The Pacific accounts for almost 60 percent of the global tuna catch, worth about $6.0 billion annually

Pacific island nations have vowed to oppose US efforts to increase its catch limit in the world's largest tuna fishery, saying the proposal does nothing to improve sustainable fishing.

The United States is expected to try to increase its quota for at a meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) taking place in Honolulu this week.

The meeting brings together 26 nations to determine fishing policy in the Pacific, which accounts for almost 60 percent of the global tuna catch, worth about $6.0 billion annually.

It is mostly made up of small island nations but also includes so-called "distant-water nations" that come from as far afield as Europe, China, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan to fish Pacific tuna.

Island nations regularly accuse them of being reluctant to curb the lucrative industry in the interests of long-term conservation.

President Donald Trump's administration will push this year to catch more bigeye—one of the most sought after species of tuna for sashimi—as a reward for complying with the commission's monitoring rules.

All fishing fleets are supposed to carry independent fisheries observers on at least five percent of their boats as means of ensuring quotas are not exceeded and to collect accurate data.

However, most nations aside from the United States ignore the monitoring requirement.

Ludwig Kumoru, chief executive of a Pacific island grouping called the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, said the US bigeye quota should not be lifted simply because it was following the rules.

"Good reporting should not be used as a condition to increase catch," he said Monday.

"We should instead concentrate on bringing that actually support sustainable fishing."

The head of the Pacific Islands Forum's fisheries agency FFA, Manu Tupou-Roosen, said her aim was to "maintain the strength of the tropical tuna measure (protections) and not to weaken the existing provisions".

The Pew Charitable Trust described the US proposal as "an interesting idea" but was cautious about any measure that lifted the overall bigeye catch.

"If you increase the catch of bigeye through one proposal, you need to kind of rein it in (elsewhere) in a different way," the environmental group's conservation specialist Dave Gershman said.

"If they can structure it in a way where it doesn't lead to an increase in bigeye catch then that would be the way to go, but at this point, not sure about that."

The meeting in Honolulu ends on Friday.

Explore further: Pacific tuna conservation meeting ends in deadlock

Related Stories

Tuna showdown looms at Samoa conference

November 29, 2014

Small Pacific island states and powerful foreign fishing nations are heading for a showdown next week over management of the world's largest tuna fishery.

Pacific states say tuna talks making slow progress

December 3, 2014

Pacific island states expressed frustration Wednesday at a lack of progress in talks aimed at protecting the region's valuable tuna resources, accusing powerful faraway fishing nations of stalling on conservation measures.

Big nations block curbs on tuna overfishing

December 6, 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.

Overfishing threatens Pacific tuna

December 2, 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.

Pacific tuna cutbacks 'fall short of expectations'

December 7, 2013

Cutbacks to tuna fishing agreed at a crucial Pacific regional fisheries conference to prevent over-fishing have fallen short of expectations, the head of the fisheries management body said Saturday.

Recommended for you

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...

EPA adviser is promoting harmful ideas, scientists say

March 22, 2019

The Trump administration's reliance on industry-funded environmental specialists is again coming under fire, this time by researchers who say that Louis Anthony "Tony" Cox Jr., who leads a key Environmental Protection Agency ...

0 comments

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.