23 Aug 2010

Greenpeace urges NZ to back tuna conservation bid

2:00 pm on 23 August 2010

Greenpeace is calling on the New Zealand Government to support a plan to make the Pacific's tuna fisheries sustainable following further reports of declining stocks.

The organisation's Australia/ Pacific Ocean Campaigner, Lagi Toribau, says research presented to a scientific meeting in Tonga indicates a decline of the large tuna species such as Bigeye and Yellowfin.

The technical meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission also heard that stock of the smaller skipjack tuna is under pressure.

Mr Toribau says Greenpeace supports plans to close four areas of international waters in the Pacific to all fishing:

"The four high seas pockets that border the Pacific Island countries are something that we have shown and proven in our at sea enforcement activities as a pirate escape route and it is something that has been used to launder and transfer fish illegally out at sea. It's an important spawning area for tuna, its a migratory route for turtles and sharks and other species as well so it's an important area that warrants its grounds to be closed."

The closure proposal will be discussed at a full meeting of the Tuna Commission later this year.

The plan already has the support of Pacific island nations and Australia, but the New Zealand government has not confirmed its position.