Fisheries commission blind to Bigeye fate

Tumon, Guam: Deadlocked talks and a deferral of key conservation and management measures. Most noteworthy for high value tuna stocks. All mark a disappointing outcome for the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).

Particularly disappointing is the failure to find solutions resolving the downward spiral of overfished bigeye tuna. Cause more and more bigeye tuna being caught with no adequate action. Therefore,  precautionary conservation measures to protect yellowfin stocks are non-existent.

Positive actions by the WCPFC protecting oceanic whitetip shark and cetaceans overshadowing by inaction. Inaction on whale sharks being entangled by purse seine nets.

WWF expressing dismay at the rapid growth in longline fleets. These fleets locating in the Western and Central Pacific. All targeting southern albacore tuna. Catches of albacore are rising from 53000 metric tonnes to 71000 metric tonnes. Rising over the last ten years. Thereby placing other vulnerable marine species like seabirds at risk.

WWF pleased that a joint WWF, Greenpeace and Pew submission. One for the commission taking urgent action on for conserving albacore. Yup, it’s drawing the support of Japan and Pacific island countries and territories.

WWF strongly urging WCPFC Member States to take actions supporting implementing the precautionary approach.

More in particular to:

• Adopting harvest control rules. As well as reference points in line with international best practice. Practices for tuna stocks.

• Strengthening regulations on bycatch species. Thereby affecting tuna fishing. Finally and

• Reducing fishing capacity in line with long-term sustainable yields.

Source: WWF

Most importantly, over half of the world’s tuna catch is for the taking. All in Western Central Pacific ocean. Worst part is it’s a catch valued at over $US 4.6 billion/year. Most of the this catch (some 1.8 million metric tonnes) is Skipjack tuna. Most noteworthy, tuna that is mostly canned.

Firstly, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention (WCPFC) is an international fisheries agreement. An agreement seeking to ensure, through effective management. So we need to be managing the long-term conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish stocks (i.e. tunas, billfish, marlin). All in the western and central Pacific Ocean.

In conclusion, the basic tenet of precautionary approach to fisheries management is simple. First off, do not take actions having an unacceptably high risk of compromising the health of the resource. So most importantly and therefore implementing a precautionary approach is usually the best idea. Finally, one agreement working through pre-agreed management actions. They are also called ‘harvest control rules’.

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