Marshall Islands pushes action to cut bigeye tuna catches

11:58 am on 10 August 2015

The Marshall Islands will host a major fisheries meeting later this month that aims to develop measures to reduce current heavy fishing that has put bigeye tuna stocks in jeopardy.

Scientists, fisheries agency officials and industry representatives will meet in Majuro from the 19th to 21st of August to try and develop common ground for a conservation measure that can be proposed to Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting in December.

The director of the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority, Glen Joseph, says bigeye tuna is being caught at alarming levels and the status quo won't cut it or else the stock will crash.

The Marshalls fisheries department director Glen Joseph said he is happy to see that the purse seine fishing industry has begun taking action to modify fishing gear to reduce by catch of bigeye tuna. Here, a purse seiner off loads its tuna catch in Majuro.

Photo: RNZI / Giff Johnson

The WCPFC has functioned by consensus for its first decade of operations, which has prevented Pacific nations from seeing more aggressive conservation measures, and the past two meetings have failed to adopt proposed cutbacks and conservations measures.

However, Mr Joseph says he would prefer to see the commission continue to operate by consensus, instead of introducing a voting system, which he says could undermine cooperation needed to implement management measures.