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Setting Tuna Nets On Whalesharks Banned Pacific Ocean, December 6, 12

The Pacific Tuna Commission (Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission) has passed a proposal to ban setting of nets on whale sharks in Manila Wednesday.
The ban proposal tabled by the Australian fisheries delegation at the meeting sought to prohibit setting of nets around the whale sharks under which fish aggregate under.
The proposal, which applies to the high seas and exclusive economic zones of the Convention Area prohibits flagged vessels from setting a purse seine on a school of tuna associated with a whale shark in the high seas and exclusive economic zones of the Convention Area, if the animal is sighted prior to the commencement of the set.
The ban applies for fishing activities in PNA exclusive economic zones, the prohibition shall be implemented in accordance with the Third Arrangement implementing the Nauru Agreement as amended on 11 September 2010.
It also itemizes a number of recommendations that vessels must comply with as a result of the ban.

Parties to Nauru Agreement chairperson Nanette Malsol said they are happy that the commission is finally doing something to protect whale sharks and apply compatible measures to PNA rules, which were implemented in 2010.

Malsol said PNA agreed under their regulations to ban setting of nets on whale sharks, and parties are currently implementing the measure. Other coastal states have similar measures in place.
“These in-zone measures are being undermined by the failure of the Commission to meet its responsibilities to apply a compatible measure in the high seas, which is a breach of the Convention.
PNA members have strongly supported the Australian proposal for whale shark protection,” she said.
Angelo Villagomez of Pew Environment Group said, “This is great news for vulnerable whale sharks in the Pacific and we congratulate Australia and the WCPFC members.
“We’re encouraged to see WCPFC put in place a measure to protect the largest and one of the most majestic fish in the sea, the whale shark.” said Angelo Villagomez of Global Shark Conservation at the Pew Environment Group.
“Preventing vessels from intentionally setting their nets around whale sharks will help prevent further decline of this threatened species.”
“Unfortunately, WCPFC missed opportunities to protect other at risk shark species, reduce shark by-catch and close loopholes in its finning ban.
“This will now be another year where the vast majority of shark species in the Pacific won’t be managed by WCPFC.
“Despite the fact that WCPFC has a clear mandate to manage sharks, WCPFC continues to push its responsibility off on to individual countries.
While some countries in the region have been extremely proactive by turning their waters in to shark sanctuaries, most countries have done little to prevent the decline of shark populations.
Since sharks are highly migratory and are caught across jurisdictional boundaries, improved shark conservation at both the national and WCPFC levels is vital.
Vessels fishing for tuna sometimes set their nets around whale sharks because tuna tend to aggregate under whale sharks and other large floating objects.
But since the whale sharks become entangled in the nets, this fishing method can lead to their deaths.
Recent analysis of whale shark interactions with purse seine fisheries found that purse seines set on whale sharks killed an estimated 56 sharks in 2009 and 19 animals in 2010.
Whale sharks are becoming increasingly rare and are now assessed as vulnerable globally by the IUCN.