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Greenpeace Highlights Critical Need for Action at Pacific Tuna Meeting

26 September 2014

CHINA - Greenpeace has called on the Western and Central Fisheries Commission’s Technical and Compliance Committee (WCPFC) in Pohnpei this week to take a tough stance to prevent the collapse of tuna stocks in the wake of a China Tuna Industry Group initial public offering (IPO) which highlighted a blatant disregard for the long term health of fish stocks.

Recent critical declines of Pacific tuna stocks are a direct result of the continued expansion of fleets, fishing effort and the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD), by countries fishing for Pacific tuna. Overfishing in the region is not only an environmental disaster, it is economically self-defeating, said Greenpeace.

Greenpeace’s Karli Thomas who is in Pohnpei for the meeting from 25-30 September said: “The WCPFC and its members must respond strongly to any breach of the rules. If they don’t, overfishing will continue and bring with it fisheries collapse, bankruptcies and job losses.”

The need to improve governance of Pacific tuna fisheries has been reinforced by the revelations in China Tuna Industry's (CTI) draft prospectus for an initial public offer on the Hong Kong Stock

The Deutsche Bank sponsored IPO draft prospectus conveys a blatant disregard for the long term health of fish stocks and for the catch limits imposed by the WCPFC to recover the overfished bigeye

“The company’s statements around compliance and penalties under the WCPFC read like a slap in the face for the Commission.”

While the company describes bigeye tuna in the region as being at “a healthy level of abundance”, the WCPFC’s own science shows the stock is overfished and at a critically low level requiring immediate action.

Last week, Greenpeace wrote to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to raise concern about this and other inaccuracies in the draft prospectus. Media has since reported that the company is delaying its
IPO as a result of those concerns.

In its briefing paper to the meeting, Greenpeace calls on the WCPFC Technical and Compliance Committee to recommend that the Commission:

· Strengthen the Commission’s response to non-compliance and IUU fishing, including developing and enforcing sanctions for non-compliance.

· Reduce longline fishing effort including closing the high seas to all fishing, banning trans shipment at sea and placing more observers on longliners.

· Decrease purse- seine impacts on bigeye tuna by adopting a permanent year-round ban on the use of FADs.

· Adopt interim target reference points of 50% for bigeye, yellowfin and skipjack tuna stocks, and 70% for albacore, to guide management.

· Agree a Conservation and Management Measure for South Pacific albacore, based on the Atafu Declaration made by Pacific leaders in 2014.

· Strengthen rules to prevent sharks being targeted and adopt international best practice (fins naturally attached landings) to combat shark finning.

The Commission’s 11th Regular Session will be held in Samoa in December 2014, where decisions will be made for management of Pacific tunas in 2015 and beyond.

“All countries and companies involved in Pacific tuna fisheries must have the health of the stocks as their primary concern. China Tuna Industry’s attitude is one of brazen disregard for the sorry state of bigeye tuna, and for the limits in place to protect the species. WCPFC members must insist that for the tuna industry to have a future, there is no place for companies that are not committed to fishing sustainably and legally,” said Ms Thomas.

Greenpeace is campaigning for a future where tuna is a global scale fishery that protects biodiversity, provides employment and income, and feeds people around the world.

TheFishSite News Desk

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