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Grim outlook for consensus in lead up to key Cairns fishery meeting

Greenpeace says the distant water fishing nations have vetoed efforts to conserve fish stocks in the Pacific and prospects of an agreement are looking grim.


The Pacific Oceans Campaigner, Duncan Williams says small Pacific nations say they have carried the burden of conservation in the past and it’s now time for countries outside the region to come to the table at next weeks Tuna Commission meeting.


The 10th regular meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC10) takes place in Cairns, Australia, where 32 countries and territories will try to develop a new conservation and management measure applicable to the world’s largest tuna fisheries.


Williams says there is a stalemate on agreements on vessels and fishing practices, as the Tuna Commission operates by consensus.


He says both the number of boats in the Pacific as well as the types of boats need to be the subject of tough new regulations on the distant nations.


“These countries have simply vetoed sensible measures and have thrown all sorts of technicalities to render these measures either as ineffective or very hard to implement at the technical level. The outlook for that meeting looks rather grim.”


Duncan Williams says Greenpeace will be at the Cairns meeting next week to lobby the member countries.




A proposal that would subject the US longline tuna fisheries to a 45 percent reduction in bigeye tuna catch is being proposed by the Parties of Nauru Agreement (PNA).


Arnold Palacios, chair of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC) says PNA is an organization that has supported rampant expansion of tuna purse-seining in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean and the impact of the purse-seine expansion has led to bigeye overfishing and a 75 percent reduction in bigeye yield.


The PNA chief executive officer, Dr. Transform Aqorau stated in a Nov. 18, 2013, press release that new rules for tuna fishing in the Western and Central Pacific must cut catches of bigeye tuna by longline fishing vessels, especially in the high seas.


Dr. Aqorau specifically singled out the Hawaii longline fleet, which ironically takes only a fraction of the WCPO bigeye catch and is considered the world’s best-managed longline fishery, according to a press release from the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.


 “We see no reason to make any further cuts to US bigeye longline catch limits because the Hawaii longline fleet operates thousands of miles from the high fishing mortality zone and there is no indication that the bigeye caught by the Hawaii fleet mixes with the fish caught in PNA waters,” Palacios says.


Sources: Radio New Zealdnd and Geenpeace, Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council media releases.