Ban to save tuna population ‘not working’

Edwin G. Espejo

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With tuna populations steadily declining, an international fishing commission is considering banning certain fishing devices and creating a quota system for certain countries

ENDANGERED. Declining catch and looming total tuna fishing ban in some areas in the tuna-rich Western Pacific region could spell disaster to the Philippine tuna industry. Photo by Edwin Espejo

MANILA, Philippines – The closure of 4 pockets of high seas to tuna fishing in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean has reportedly not yielded the desired results of arresting the decline in big eye tuna stock. “Replacement measures” are now being considered to manage the steadily declining population of tuna.

Alternative measures to conserve the dwindling tuna stock will be a top priority on the agenda when the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meets in December, said the Commission’s executive director Glenn Hurry.

Among the steps considered is extending the ban on tuna fishing using fish aggregating devices (FAD), which are man-made floating objects that attract fish, making them easier to catch.

At present, the WCPFC is imposing an annual 3-month ban on FAD fishing in international waters. The ban on FAD fishing runs from July until September.

Also being considered is regulating and allocating catches of skipjacks and yellowfin tuna among countries that are members of WCPFC. Member countries include: Australia, China, Canada, Cook Islands, the European Union, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, the United States of America, Vanuatu and the Philippines.

The Commission closed 4 high seas pockets to tuna fishing beginning late 2009 in response to growing alarm over declining tuna catches.

The WCPFC will present a full report on the effectiveness of the the temporary closure later this year.  

Hurry said the 4 pockets of high seas will remain closed to tuna fishing except in Pocket 1, where the Philippines was granted exclusive access beginning October 1 this year. That privilege will expire on February 28, 2013 but can be extended depending on the results of the WCPFC meeting in December. –

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