Pacific island nations step in to save tuna

San Francisco Gate
Christopher Pala, Chronicle Foreign Service
Saturday, April 11, 2009

Until a group of small Pacific island nations imposed unheard-of restrictions on foreign fishing fleets in December, most tuna species were on the road to extinction, experts say.

The measures are expected to reduce the catch of yellowfin, bigeye and albacore species by between 10 and 30 percent over three years, enough to guarantee that the world’s top tuna fishing areas, which earn an estimated $3 billion annually, will remain productive for the foreseeable future.

“This is exactly what’s needed to reverse the decline of Pacific tuna stocks,” said Eric Gilman of International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

The conservation measures, which take effect Jan. 1, 2010, were imposed after international fishing fleets, mostly from Europe, Asia and the United States, overfished the waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean and sought new fishing areas.

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