GREENPEACE MEDIA RELEASE
September 27, 2006. Brisbane, Australia. Greenpeace wants the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to deregister all fishing vessels not reporting their positions to authorities.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific Oceans Team leader Nilesh Goundar made the comments as the Compliance Committee meeting of the WCPFC at the 2nd annual session in Brisbane, Australia got underway.
Mr Goundar who is at the meeting said all vessels registered to the WCPFC commonly known as the Regional Tuna Commission should have a vessel monitoring system (VMS) that is tamper proof and that reports automatically.
The VMS is a vessel tracking system, satellite-based, which provides management authorities with accurate information on fishing vessels position and speed at time intervals.
Greenpeace ship, the M.Y Esperanza is currently on the second leg of the Defending Our Oceans (DOO) (1) tour of the Pacific exposing illegal and overfishing in the Pacific region.
Lead campaigner on board, Lagi Toribau said during the first leg of the DOO expedition Greenpeace worked with enforcement officers from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) patrolling their exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for illegal fishing.
“Eighty per cent of the boats that were boarded had their VMS switched on, but were not reporting to the FSM coastguard,” he said.
Mr Toribau said a Greenpeace science report(2) launched recently showed that Bigeye and Yellowfin Tuna will be critically overfished in three years and Greenpeace is very concerned about the number of foreign fishing nations asking for more vessels to be registered in the region.
“If we do not want to watch Yellowfin and Bigeye tuna go the same way as the Atlantic Cod then we need to urgently halve the fishing effort in the region and, not increase it,” he said.
Mr Goundar said other Greenpeace recommendations at the meeting include:
- no further extensions on applications for fishing licences.
- 100% observer coverage in the whole area covered by the WCPFC
- until the WCPFC is ready to decide on its own patrol scheme, all member countries should have the right to board and inspect other members’ vessels with immediate effect.
- any country should exercise control over fishing boats in their ports, regardless of whether the vessel is licensed to fish in their waters or not.
- Pacific Island countries should ban any catches and transhipments (offloading of catch) in their ports if there is evidence that the catch was illegally taken in an environmentally destructive way.
- there should be no transhipments at sea for any vessels in any circumstances
The WCPFC was set up in 2004 to protect Pacific tuna stocks.
Australia, China, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Korea (Rep. of), Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu are members of the WCPFC.
Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems and to force solutions essential to a green and peaceful future."
1. The DOO tour is an expedition highlighting the beauty of and the environmental threats to the world's oceans and is campaigning for a global network of marine reserves covering 40 % of the world's oceans. The M.Y Esperanza's tour in the Pacific is part of Greenpeace’s 15-month global DOO expedition.
2 The Greenpeace science report executive summary can be found on http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/resources/reports/overfishing/Tuna-science-report-summary