8 Dec 2009

Declining stocks impact on Pacific tuna talks

3:26 pm on 8 December 2009

Environmental campaigners say members of the Western and Central Pacific Tuna Commission are likely to hear scientific evidence calling for a 50 percent cut in the catch of Bigeye.

Last year's annual meeting of Pacific nations, industry representatives and fishing nations agreed a range of measures to reduce catch by 30 per cent over three years.

But that fell short of the immediate 30 percent cut scientists had been calling for.

Greenpeace's representative at this year's meeting in Tahiti, Lagi Toribau, says there is some hope that Pacific nations will ensure change:

"In this meeting, particularly, we have already heard statements from Pacific Islands countries around the table that they are thinking of the future of their people and also of Pacific Island governments as this is a key economic resource so we are very hopeful that the Pacific Island countries, who are the resource owners here, will be taking leadership because at the end of the day the loss of this fishery will have an impact primarily on them."

Lagi Toribau says the scientific information showing the need for a reduction of fishing effort of Bigeye by 50 per cent shows the current levels of exploitation are not sustainable.

But a spokesperson for the Forum Fisheries Agency, Anouk Ride, says the meeting will be hearing of progress so far, rather than re opening the argument over catch reduction.