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Petition calls to protect Pacific tuna fisheries

11 August 2008

Petition calls on Govt to protect Pacific's tuna fisheries

The Green Party is launching a petition calling on the Government to take urgent action to halt the over-exploitation of the Pacific's tuna fisheries.

"Today, well over 4000 large foreign fishing vessels are plundering the Pacific waters. Technological advances mean large ships can catch as many fish in two days as a small Pacific nation can in a year. With tuna stocks decreasing in other oceans, more and more ships are moving into the Pacific. These practices are not sustainable," Green Party Conservation and Fisheries Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

The sustainability of at least two of the main commercially harvested tuna in the Pacific is currently threatened, Mrs Turei says.

The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation regards the Pacific's big eye and yellowfin tuna stocks as either fully or over-exploited. The Pacific tuna fishery is clearly heading for crisis and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, tasked with ensuring the sustainability of this fishery, has failed to take action.

Green Party Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke says the current exploitation of the Pacific's tuna fisheries has too little economic benefit for the Pacific region.

"Over 90 percent of the 2 million tonnes of tuna taken from the Pacific Ocean each year is caught by fleets from outside the Pacific - from countries like Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, the United States and the European Union. These foreign fleets catch around US$3 billion worth of tuna a year, but, because of unequal access agreements, only 5 percent of this stays in the Pacific."

For some Pacific Island nations, tuna is their only major economic resource, as well as an important source of food. The loss of this important resource would be economically and socially devastating.

"New Zealand should help build and support the capacity of Pacific Island countries to implement and enforce restrictions in their waters," Mr Locke says.

The petition also calls on the House of Representatives to actively support the establishment of marine reserves in the international waters of the Pacific. These areas provide safe havens for illegal fishing fleets and are dangerously overfished. Creating protected ocean zones would allow tuna stocks to recover and ensure their future sustainability.

* Copies of the petition can be downloaded from: www.greens.org.nz/conservation


ENDS

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