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Greenpeace: WCPFC "Allowing Outrageous Increases In Tuna Fishing Capacity"

Greenpeace yesterday urged the fifth annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) Scientific Committee to do more to end overfishing of Pacific bigeye and yellowfin tuna, by calling for larger reductions in fishing of these key species and by recommending the closure of four enclaves on international waters to all fishing.

"Catching fish the way we do undermines the viability of the fish stocks, their ecosystem and the fishing industry itself. The WCPFC must set precautionary management targets and cut fishing by half, rather that allowing outrageous increases in fishing capacity," said Lagi Toribau Greenpeace Australia Pacific Oceans Team Leader at the meeting.

According to Greenpeace, another increasing threat to Pacific marine life results from wasteful fishing techniques - Fishing Aggregation Devices (FADs) used by purse seine vessels - which intensify overfishing. FADs are used to attract skipjack tuna but juvenile bigeye and yellowfin as well as sharks and other marine life are killed as by-catch when caught in the nets and thrown overboard, dead, as waste. Greenpeace is calling on a full ban on the use of these devices.

WCPFC tuna ban, under effect right now (August 1st – September 30th), forbids FAD fishing by tuna purse-seiners at the high seas and EEZ areas during this period.

More than half of the world’s tuna supply comes from the Pacific, 2008 was the highest reported annual catch in the Pacific fishery at over 2.4 million tonnes. “With the world's appetite for tuna growing continuously, the food security for local island communities and millions of people across the globe depends on this meeting recommending to the WCPFC substantial cuts in fishing and an end to the high seas plunder” stated the NGO.

Enclaves of international waters in the Pacific are an important contribution to the network of marine reserves needed world-wide. Approximately 10% of the Pacific annual reported catch comes from these areas, which Greenpeace’s previous expeditions have confirmed to be havens for pirate fishing. The enclaves are also rich biological and ecological areas containing vulnerable, fragile and sensitive habitats such as tropical corals and shallow seamounts.

"Marine reserves are a powerful means of protecting and restoring marine ecosystems. Greenpeace is calling on the WCPFC to close these four enclaves to all fishing." said Genevieve Quirk Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner also at the meeting.