Tuna Industry "Sustainability" Group Should Act to Save the Tuna

October 11, 2010 11:47

The folks at the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation have  turned their attention to tuna transshipment "ISSF Urges IATTC To Fix
Transshipment Loophole.", reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to Greenpeace.

You might not guess it from their name, but these guys are a pretty influential  club that includes many of the biggest canned tuna brands of the world. Since the group was founded, they've been getting involved in tuna management discussions. It makes sense that they should be interested in the sustainability of tuna stocks - it is after all what their businesses are built upon.

Greenpeace wholeheartedly agrees that action is needed on transshipment. We have been calling for transshipment at sea to be banned altogether - it's a typical modus operandi of pirate fishing vessels stealing fish and laundering their catches. Repeatedly, Greenpeace expeditions in have shown this practice is being used by foreign fishing vessels in the Pacific high seas to steal tuna from Pacific Island countries (last year we caught two Taiwanese longline vessels red-handed making an illegal transshipment in the high seas - they're now featured on our blacklist of pirate fishing vessels here and here).

What makes this plea from ISSF sound a little hollow is that they do not simply take action themselves. It's a bit like a smoker realising their health is in decline and deciding to lobby their government to make smoking illegal. Not buying a pack a day would be a more direct and effective way of solving the problem, if indeed they were committed to doing so.

ISSF member companies account over 70% of the world's tuna. The power to shift fishing practices on the water is well and truly in their hands, so Greenpeace challenges them to flex their considerable muscle to create positive change. If ISSF is genuinely concerned about transshipment and its role in overfishing and illegal fishing, then it should adopt conservation measures to oblige every one of its members to simply stop buying tuna from fishing companies that engage in tuna transshipment.

Much of the problem would be solved there and then, and the task of fisheries managers to enact a transshipment ban would become considerably easier once markets dried up.

This would be just one small step for ISSF to take in order to start cleaning up of the tuna operations of their member companies and suppliers. Two other critical measures they must take are to stop buying tuna caught with the use of Fish Aggregation Devices (which lead to bycatch of juvenile tunas, sharks, turtles and other marine life) and to stop buying tuna from the Pacific high seas pockets, which are not only the location of many tuna transshipments, but also the venue for much of the region's illegal, unreported and unregulated (aka pirate) fishing.

Together, these three measures would vastly improve the prospects for the world's beleaguered tuna stocks - without which ISSF member companies would be trading in empty tin cans.

It's time to get out the nicotine patch, ISSF, and go cold tuna.

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