Greenpeace Reduces Pacific Plunder of Taiwanese Longliners
Pacific Ocean, Tuesday May 13, 2008: Over the past three days activists on board Greenpeace ship Esperanza have stopped one fishing vessel from operating and confiscated two fishing beacons from Taiwanese longliners in international waters between Papua New Guinea and the Federated States of Micronesia.
Greenpeace took action against overfishing by a litany of Taiwanese longliners: The fleet of six vessels (1) included the controversial Ho Tsai Fa 18 (2) that activists met eleven days ago and released sharks, tuna, marlin and an endangered turtle from her hooks. The Ho Tsai Fa 18 was prevented from fishing for three days knowing that activists would again release marine life from the hooks. Activists were also given permission to go on board two Taiwanese longliners. The Yu Jaan Shyang had nine tonnes of tuna, sharks – including sacks of fins and tails - and marlin. Two longline beacons were also confiscated from the Chin Yu Chun and last night the Esperanza peacefully escorted her out of the international waters, where the beacon was returned. All boats agreed to leave the international waters that Greenpeace is defending as marine reserves.
Greenpeace is concerned about the large amount of fishing taking place by the Taiwanese fleet. The organisation has sent a letter to the Government of Taiwan urging it to immediately call in all fishing vessels from pockets of international waters between Pacific island countries and support the need to protect these international waters as marine reserves. Last year Taiwan, Japan, Korea and mainland China all blocked moves for sustainable fishing by Pacific island countries in the region.
“We are disturbed to see the six Taiwanese longliners and the Ho Tsai Fa 18 again in this area. Taiwan clearly doesn’t care about sustainable fishing and the future of the Pacific Ocean,” said Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner Lagi Toribau on board the Esperanza. “Greenpeace has written to the Taiwanese Government and asked them to instruct their fishing fleet to withdraw from the Pacific Commons and support genuine efforts for sustainable fishing including creating marine reserves in these areas of international waters,” said Toribau.
All vessels are contributing to the decline of tuna and sharks. At any one moment there are 3600 long-liners in the Pacific setting thousands of kilometres of lines with literally millions of hooks. This has had devastating impacts on Pacific marine life including the target species of tuna as well as sharks and turtles. Scientists have been warning for years that bigeye and yellowfin tuna are suffering from overfishing.
The Greenpeace ship, Esperanza, is in the Pacific for the sixth week to defend the pockets of international waters between Pacific Island countries – the Pacific Commons - as marine reserves (3) from greedy fishing fleets.
The Pacific provides approximately 60 per cent of the world’s tuna and each year foreign fishing fleets rake in over US$3 billion from the sale of Pacific tuna to markets in Asia, Europe and the USA. Pacific nations are being ripped off only receiving 5-6 per cent of the value of the catch caught by foreign vessels in their national waters. This is because of the unfair and unsustainable agreements negotiated by foreign companies and countries for access to fish for tuna in their waters. Pacific island countries don’t receive any returns from the catch taken in the Pacific Commons.
"Retailers must act as gatekeepers, ensuring that fish sold on their shelves do not originate from operators like these that are involved in destructive or illegal fishing. Greenpeace is asking supermarkets across the world to stop selling unsustainable tuna products such as bluefin, bigeye and yellowfin which are now threatened in all oceans," said Sari Tolvanen of Greenpeace International. “Consumers have a right to know the real crisis behind the tuna they eat. Far too often it is either illegally or unsustainably ripped off from the waters of developing coastal states or from areas of international water with little or no control.”
In the last month Greenpeace has taken action against overfishing by Korean, Taiwanese and US boats. Activists also confiscated a fish aggregation device (FAD) that intensifies overfishing. On Friday activists disrupted an intended transfer of catch between a tuna pirate and a mothership, both from the Philippines.
Greenpeace advocates the creation of a network of marine reserves, protecting 40 per cent of the world's oceans, as the long term solution to overfishing and the recovery of our overexploited oceans.