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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Governments fail to stop tuna plunder
Kobe, Japan Government members of the worlds five tuna regional management organizations, meeting this week in Japan, have failed to agree on an action plan to help reverse the decline in tuna stocks and to stop the plundering of these valuable species, says WWF.
Governments failed to agree on concrete action to reduce fishing capacity to sustainable levels, ensure legally caught supplies of tuna to markets, reduce the fisheries bycatch of species like turtles, seabirds and sharks, and ensure that developing countries can enter tuna fisheries sustainably.
Despite Japans and other governments admission that tuna stocks are in a critical state, that urgent action is needed, and that solutions already exist, they have failed to agree any concrete actions. Their only agreement was to gather more data and talk more often. WWF believes this inaction will result in further depletion of tuna populations, degradation of the oceans, loss of tuna to eat and ultimately lead to a loss of livelihoods across the world.
Tax payers should hold these officials responsible for failing to do their duty to protect the tuna we eat and the environment we are dependent on, said Dr Simon Cripps, Director of WWFs Global Marine Programme.
More than 200 officials have travelled to Japan with little achieved except a plan to hold more meetings. We hold government representatives personally responsible for reversing the decline in tuna populations.
Regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) are the main mechanism developed by countries to regulate fishing on the high seas areas beyond national law where most tuna catches occur. Despite efforts by some governments within tuna RFMOs, global tuna stocks are critically depleted and some species, such as bluefin tuna, used for high-end sushi and sashimi, are at high risk of collapse.
The responsible tuna fishing sector is realizing that they can still take action to ensure their business is put on a more sustainable footing. Recent pledges from major retailers, such as Wal-Mart, and demand for seafood from well managed stocks, such as those with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) ecolabel, give consumers the option to support the legitimate fishing sector and bypass intransigent government officials.
Governments wasted the opportunity to show global leadership to ensure a future for tuna and dependent fishing communities, especially small island states, added Dr Cripps. The spotlight now turns onto the responsible fishing industry and the retail sector. We, the consumers, need to give them our support.
WWF urges the members of ICCAT, meeting next week in Tokyo, to close the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery during the entire spawning season and to halve the current quota to retrieve the stock from the brink of commercial extinction.
For more information contact:
Jessica Battle, WWF Global Marine Programme
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Impacts/Environment, biodiversity and fish stocks
Issues/Governance / management