From: Bernadette Carreon
Published April 17, 2012 12:43 PM

Tighter controls rejected on Pacific tuna fishing

[PALAU] Pacific island nations and conservation groups have failed to persuade the body that oversees tuna fishing in the Pacific to introduce more stringent measures to protect tuna supply.

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Negotiations broke down at a meeting in Guam last month (March 26-30) of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), as Pacific island nations — backed by Australia — failed to reach agreement with the United States, European Union, China and Japan on ways to conserve big-eye tuna and protect other species.

According to the WCPFC's Scientific Committee, big-eye tuna, which is used mainly for sushi, is 80 per cent depleted, and continues to be overfished. It also said that yellowfin tuna is being fished to the limit of sustainability, and skipjack -- the variety commonly used in cans -- needs to be watched closely.

Joanna Benn, senior officer for international policy of the Pew Environment Group, a Washington-based think-tank, said "science shows that management measures are necessary, but [agreement is needed] at a political level."

The main sticking points have been proposals to extend restrictions on the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) beyond the current three-month ban each year, and to limit the use of purse-seine nets, both of which are fully supported by eight Pacific states — Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands — and civil society groups.

Purse-seine nets are encircling nets that closes at the bottom, preventing even juvenile fish from swimming down and escaping. These nets stretch about 1.6-kilometers wide and 1,000 feet deep.

Article continues at ENN affiliate, Science and Development Network

Phillipines Tuna Market image via Shutterstock

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