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Overfishing threatens Pacific tuna—officials

Tuna replicas are on display during the opening of the 9th regular session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in suburban Manila on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012. Several governments and environmentalists have raised an alarm over destructive fishing methods and overfishing that were threatening the Pacific Ocean’s bigeye tuna, the fish popular among sushi lovers the world over. AP PHOTO/AARON FAVILA

MANILA, Philippines—Asia-Pacific fishing experts Sunday warned against depleting tuna stocks, saying the region needs to reduce its catch of the vulnerable bigeye species by 30 percent.

Participants at the conference of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) said action must be taken not only to preserve tuna resources but also other marine life that are accidentally caught with them.

Some tuna varieties are overfished while others are near their limits, participants at the meeting said. Additionally, tuna fishers often catch sharks, rays and other fish in their nets, depleting their numbers as well.

The area covered by the WCPFC provides more than 50 percent of all the tuna catch in the world, said Asis Perez, head of the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries.

The commission, which groups over 30 countries and territories ranging from the United States, China and Australia to small Pacific island nations, has a special role in protecting tuna, he added.

Because tuna is a migratory species that moves from one country’s territory to another, cooperation is crucial to sustaining the resource.

WCPFC executive director Glenn Hurry said bigeye tuna, one of the most caught species, was reaching its limits and measures must be taken to limit the catching of this species.

“This is the one we’re worried about. The catch is too big. We need to find a way to reduce that,” he told reporters.

Hurry said the region was producing about 151,000 tons of bigeye tuna annually which was too high.

“We need to reduce that catch by 30 percent,” he said.

But the catching of the other popular varieties –  like skipjack, yellowfin and Pacific albacore – should not increase either, Hurry warned.

Skipjack tuna catch was about 1.4 million tons last year, while yellowfin tuna catch was at about 550,000 tons in 2010, Hurry said, adding it should ideally be at 450,000 tons a year.

“We want to develop a conservation measure for the catching of bigeye, yellowfin and skipjack tuna,” he said.

Among the proposed measures is extending controls on “fish aggregating devices”— floating objects that attract fish in the high seas, making it easier for fishing boats to haul them in.

Such devices often result in the catching of immature tuna as well as other species like sharks, rays and sea turtles, participants said.

The forum will also take up possibly closing the so-called “high-seas pockets” in the Pacific where tuna fishing is permitted but where there are reports of some fishing boats violating commission rules.

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Tags: Environment , fish , Pacific , Philippines

  • zeroko

    Our country is a playing ground ..by foreign poachers like Korea, Japan, China, Taiwanese, etc. We have a pony Coast Guard who rides in small bangka going after big time ocean going vessels. “Kawawa talaga tayo.” This is what we get voting Chinese in our government. They never function as expected. They are more interested poaching on Juan de la Cruz money than serving our country.

    In the Previous administration, former Unsec. DA Arthur Yap bought 10 quick freezing machine to benefit our fishermen worth 500 million pesos, yet, not one gadget ever arrived. It is what you call ‘ghost delivery.” For his corrupt practices, he left his position and successfully became a Congressman. So, you can see that crooks get rewarded for their corruption. Same thing happened to former Head of TESDA, Syjuco who bought TESDA gadget who over-price the gadget as much as 1,400%. He also was able to dodge any punishment and he is now a Congressman too. Both are Chinese. 98% of our politicians are Chinese. “Isang damukal na uto-uto ang Pilipino.”

    • Guest

       Don’t start to irk Japan and Korea. China is already enough.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NYKIOQEDTUD4FPPPVHP6XMFNEA Raul

    Overfishing? Ang China ang pinakamaraming poachers cyanide fishing, at nagingisda sa Pacifico dahil walang makain. Gutom sa kanila. China ang may salarin. They pollute our ocean the overfish them.

    • Guest

       Maybe overpopulation in the Phils?

  • randyaltarejos

    Perhaps, it is about time the Philippines must lead the way. One of the best ways to sustain this waning tuna resources is to emulate what other countries are doing: Culture tuna species in the open seas.

    • Guest

       seldom to see sense talk. Good thought randyaltarejos.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.lee.1485 Matt Lee

    Guess what, this article is about overfishing of tuna. Japan and the US are the biggest consumers of tuna. You really gonna stay up to your buddies? Doubt it.

  • philip99_manila

    stop making canned tuna products

    • Guest

       And then next is stop fishing?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NYKIOQEDTUD4FPPPVHP6XMFNEA Raul

    China is the biggest consumers in the world. They have 1000 fishermen not included those who are poachers. Russian caught Chinese poachers. Philippines caught Chinese poachers. U.S coast guard caught Chinese fishing boats with Cambodian flag. So all in all China is over fish,poached the Pacific. What kind of country is China? They taught their people of world destruction.

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