The future of Pacific tuna was discussed at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting recently, and all did not end well.
The value of the fishing watchdog commission was discussed by many representatives of Pacific island states and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) at a recent annual conference. The state representatives and the WCPFC deliberated about the current measures being taken to ensure conservation of the valuable Pacific tuna stock, but the meeting ended without a compromise.
Representatives from Pacific states, including Samoa and Palau, want the commission to better police fishing areas and enforce strict limits on harvesting Pacific tuna, specifically the valuable bigeye tuna.
Numbers show Pacific tuna stock is down to 16 percent from its historic high, as conservation measures have been blocked by nations that include China, the United States, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and those throughout Europe. Similar efforts to conserve the yellowfin and albacore stocks also failed prior to this meeting.
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Although the meeting took place behind closed doors, some delegates indicated many of the control measures suggested by state representatives were rejected.
World Wildlife Fund’s Pacific Tuna Program Manager Bubba Cook told reporters the potential outcome of this unwillingness to compromise.
“In this case, everybody loses,” he said. “The Pacific islands lose, the distant water-fishing nations lose and, most importantly, the resource loses.”
The issue has not been settled.
China’s head delegate, Liu Xiaobing, told reporters, “I strongly hope next year, we can reach an agreement. Otherwise, the reputation of this organization will be in danger.”