Pacific Means Business And Bans High Seas Tuna Fishing: Greenpeace
Greenpeace has applauded a decision to ban tuna fishing in high seas areas, as a landmark for tuna conservation and biodiversity protection by the eight Pacific Island Countries of the Palau Nauru Agreement (PNA) group meeting in Palau this week
Foreign fishing vessels will not be allowed to fish in the two major high seas pockets in the Pacific. The first is north of Papua New Guinea, its boundary shared by the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau. The boundary of the larger second area is shared by PNG, Nauru, Marshall Islands, FSM, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Solomon Islands.
Foreign fishing boats will also be required to retain their full catches, regardless of whether or not they are tuna stock and to carry observers onboard at all times.
The use of Fishing Aggregation Devices (FADs), a device used to intensify overfishing will be banned in the third quarter of each year. An agreement formalizing these measures will be in force from June 15, 2008.
“This is a historical moment for the Pacific, its people, and the health of biodiversity of the seas,” said Lagi Toribau Greenpeace Australia Pacific Oceans Campaigner.
“We also commend the unwavering support of Cook Islands and Vanuatu in continuing to back the PNA measures and urge the remaining Forum Fisheries Agency member countries to stand together on this front.”
Toribau said the Pacific region means business.
“Distant water fishing nations (DWFN’s) like Japan, Taiwan, Korea and China that have resisted the protection of the regions tuna stocks at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) need to respect this bold but necessary move and adopt similar measures,” he said.
The Director of Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Asterio Takesy commended the new measures: “this is indeed a defining moment for fisheries conservation in our region and a giant step in the right direction for the sake of our present generation and generations to come. As a fellow Pacific Islander I am proud of you. As Director of SPREP, with all due respect I humbly urge you the rest of FFA members to follow suit.”
The scientific update also informed the countries that for the two key stocks, yellowfin now has a higher risk of overfishing while the bigeye stocks already has overfishing occurring.
Next week the global Conference of Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) will start in Bonn Germany and the criteria for the establishment of a worldwide network of Marine Reserves will be discussed.
“Once we begin to see the value in no longer fishing in High Seas areas, it is only a matter of time before they can be proclaimed as Marine Reserves” said Seni Nabou, Greenpeace Pacific Political Advisor who will be at the meeting.
Parties to the Convention on Biological diversity have committed to create a worldwide network of marine protected areas by 2012. But there are no such reserves in international waters yet, and less than 1% of the world’s oceans are adequately protected. Implementation of the Pacific commitment can start now and these areas can be officially closed this year.
“The Pacific has shown that even though our countries are large ocean states with limited capacity, we continue to lead the way in defining how our traditional conservation worldviews can and should shape both fisheries and biodiversity policies. Pacific countries now need the support of the rest of the world for this bold proposal,” said Nabou.