Pacific nations alarmed by tuna overfishing

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 2, 2012 at 9:27 am •  Published: December 2, 2012
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Between 47,000 and 105,000 fish aggregation devices, made from bamboo, palm fronds, plastic or old nets, have been deployed worldwide to attract a wide variety of marine life. The method is used to catch nearly half of the world's tuna and has contributed to the overfishing of bigeye tuna across the Pacific Ocean, according to the U.S.-based Pew Environment Group.

Aside from tuna, sea turtles, sharks and juvenile fish have often been caught and killed.

"The deployment of tens of thousands of drifting fish aggregating devices in the world's oceans with little to no oversight is extremely worrisome," said Amanda Nickson of the Pew Environment Group.

"The fishing industry is not currently required to account for its use of FADs. It is being allowed to gamble with the health of the ocean, and it is time for governments to require full accountability and management of this proliferating and risky fishing gear," Nickson said.

Conservation efforts, however, have been tough to implement and have sparked disagreements.

Greepeace activists said they will submit evidence to the fisheries commission detailing violations of regional tuna fishing rules by Southeast Asian countries including allowing fishing vessels to operate on the high seas without permits and required observers onboard.

A decision by the fisheries commission to exempt the Philippines from purse seine fishing — an industrial technique in which a net is used to surround and capture schools of fish — in a large swath of the Pacific has sparked complaints from other nations.

The exemption was given to discourage Philippine fleets from fishing in territorial waters off the country's eastern coast, which are known spawning grounds for tuna that later spread out to the Pacific.

Philippine Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala asked the fishing commission to extend the exemption, which he said started last October and would end in February next year.



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