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Trouble Brewing in the Pacific – Part 1 of 3

December 15, 2010
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Last week, government representatives of 25+ countries met in Hawaii to talk tuna. The Western and Central Pacific Tuna Commission (WCPFC) had its annual meeting, at which it should have taken steps to protect valuable fish stocks from overfishing and reduce tuna fishing’s impact on the ocean ecosystem.

Although some cuts were made to the bluefin tuna catch allowance, the RFMO failed to tackle the real problem at hand: Bigeye tuna.

Why should this be interesting to anybody?  Here are a few reasons:

1) Tuna are more than food, they are top ocean predators and therefore top environmental managers.

2) They are big money. As the SeaAroundUs Project points out,  4 of the 11 most commercially important species in 2006 were tunas. (Skipjack, bigeye, albacore, and yellowfin)

3. Overfishing of tuna is mostly driven by rich industrial countries. In the Pacific, for example, most of the “catch all” purse seine vessels are owned by the US, Japan, the EU, and others.  Meanwhile, the Pacific countries want to develop their own fleets to take advantage of the fish that occur in and near their own waters.

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