Posted by: The ocean update | September 2, 2016

Pacific Islands fail to agree plan to protect tuna

Wholesalers survey fresh tuna at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo before an auction. Photograph : Toru Hanai/Reuters

Wholesalers survey fresh tuna at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo before an auction. Photograph : Toru Hanai/Reuters

Friday, September 2nd, 2016. Countries from around the Pacific Ocean met to discuss ways of protecting the shrinking supplies but were unable to come to any agreement, officials say.

Pacific island states and countries failed on Friday to strike a deal to protect shrinking supplies of tuna and adopt cutbacks following a regional conference, officials said, sparking condemnation from conservationists.

The Pacific Ocean is the world’s largest tuna fishing ground, accounting for almost 60% of the global catch.

But supplies are dwindling and conservationists say urgent action is needed to ensure populations remain viable.

The 10 participants “could not reach an agreement” on proposed regulation after five days of talks at the Northern Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) annual conference, Japan’s Fisheries Agency said in a statement.

The participants, which include Japan, China, the United States, Fiji, Vanuatu, Canada, South Korea, the Philippines, the Cook islands and Taiwan, agreed to the conference in the Japanese city of Fukuoka after sharp declines in bluefin tuna brood stock last year.

Japan, which consumes roughly 70% of the global bluefin tuna haul, has suggested introducing cutbacks if stocks drop for three consecutive years.

But the Japanese proposal was opposed by other participants at the meeting, including the US, that want tougher measures to protect the species, fisheries agency official Kazuya Fukaya told AFP.

Fukaya added that the issue will be discussed again at the committee’s next annual meeting in South Korea.

Environmental groups expressed frustration over the stalemate, with Greenpeace calling it “extremely regrettable as the stock of Pacific bluefin tuna is in a state of emergency.”

“Japan, the world’s largest consumer of bluefin tuna, bears the responsibility to strengthen domestic rules (on fishing),” Greenpeace said.

The conservation group has proposed an immediate two-year moratorium on all commercial fishing of the species.

“The latest stock assessment for Pacific bluefin, released in 2016, found that the population has been heavily depleted to just 2.6% of its historic unfished size by nearly a century of overfishing,” Greenpeace said in its proposal.

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