Illegal tuna fishing impacts Pacific

2016-03-15 16:37
Fish dealers prepare to slice bluefin tuna at Tsukiji Wholesale Market in Tokyo. (Koji Sasahara, AP)

Fish dealers prepare to slice bluefin tuna at Tsukiji Wholesale Market in Tokyo. (Koji Sasahara, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Wellington - Illegal tuna fishing in the Pacific has reached a "staggering" value of up to US$740m a year, a study released Tuesday found.

The Pacific supplies about 60% of the world's tuna, an economic mainstay for some small island nations, but the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) study is the first attempt to quantify the impact of banned activities.

After two years of research, the European Union-funded study concluded 276 000-338 000 tons of Pacific tuna were taken illegally every year.

It estimated the value of the black market catch at US$616m, but said it could range anywhere from $US520m to US$740m.

"The results seem confronting when you hear them up front - the thought of US$616m dollars' worth of illegal fish is staggering," FFA director general James Movick said.

He said the study would help the FFA - a Honiara-based organisation that helps regulate fishing in the waters of 17 Pacific nations - to combat the problem of illegal fishing.

Island nations typically have huge territorial waters but limited resources with which to monitor fishing activity.

Palau has only one long-range patrol boat to police an area of 500 000 square kilometres, roughly the size of Spain.

The report found the bulk of illegal fishing was carried out by trawlers which are licenced to operate in Pacific waters.

It said they either under-report their catch or transfer it to another vessel out of sight of monitors.

Game-changer

An Australian think-tank this week urged Canberra to play a more active role in protecting the Pacific fishery, which it said was approaching "tipping point".

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) said the tuna catch from the central and western Pacific was worth US$5.8bn in 2014.

But in a report released on Monday, it said the fishery was under pressure from factors such as over-exploitation, population growth and climate change.

The think-tank said it was in Australia's interests to protect the resource, describing it as a "game-changer" for some island nations.

"If regional fisheries were to become seriously depleted, [Australia] would be under considerable political pressure to provide greater economic support for most of our island neighbours, with possible long-term implications for political stability," it said.

Much of the over-fishing in the Pacific is blamed on so-called "distant water" fleets originating in Europe, the US and Asia.

ASPI said that in addition to helping island states with fisheries management and enforcement, Canberra should mount a diplomatic initiative to make conservation a priority for the distant water fleets.

It suggested the creation of an "Ambassador of Fisheries", with attachés in countries with large distant-water fleets such as Japan and Indonesia.

"If our fisheries engagement is done well. It will facilitate stronger relations to support our broad regional political, economic, social, environmental and security objectives," it said.

Read more on:    australia  |  marine life  |  conservation

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.