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New Figures Reveal Urgent Recovery Plan Needed for Bigeye Tuna

06 August 2014

GLOBAL - Shocking new assessments tabled at the 10th meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) Scientific Committee in the Marshall Islands, revealed that bigeye tuna are now officially overfished and in danger of heading down the same track as other devastated tuna species like bluefin.

Greenpeace International’s Sustainable Seafood Programme, Dr Cat Dorey said: “Greenpeace has been raising the alarm about bigeye since 2006. Now it’s a fishery at 16 per cent of its original stock size – a limit the Commission itself says is an unacceptable risk.”

“These new figures show that a permanent, year-long ban on the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) is an absolute necessity.”

The use of FADs – floating devices that increase catches but result in large quantities of bycatch being caught - makes purse seine fishing much more indiscriminate, catching mostly juvenile bigeyes that haven’t had a chance to reproduce.

“Bigeye is not just being overfished; it’s also being squandered by these floating death traps. A current four-month ban on FADs reduces the pressure on bigeye during those months, but there is no excuse for using this indiscriminate fishing method the remaining eight months of the year. The bigeye stock simply cannot withstand it.”

“This is an economic and social crime that is repeated year after year and will soon lead to the disappearance of one of the world's favourite fish,” said Dr Dorey.

The Greenpeace delegation at the WCPFC is demanding:

  • A recovery plan for bigeye tuna that includes a full ban on FAD use, cuts to longline effort, cuts to purse seine capacity and the closure of the high seas pockets to all tuna fishing
  • A moratorium on targeting Pacific Bluefin tuna
  • Urgent precautionary advice for the conservation and management of sharks
  • The final complete set of limit reference points for all species caught in the WCPFC and interim target reference points for all tuna and billfish species.

The Western and Central Pacific Ocean is the home to some of the last relatively healthy tuna stocks on the planet, making it all the more alarming that some stocks in this region are now overfished. The region provides almost 60 per cent of the world's tuna. 

TheFishSite News Desk

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