12 Dec 2016

Japan could easily solve bluefin crisis - WWF

9:38 am on 12 December 2016

The WWF tuna programme manager says Japan could solve the crisis around Pacific bluefin tuna easily.

At the annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission last week environmental organisations called for a two-year moratorium on bluefin fishing.

They say stocks have plummeted to less than three percent of their pre-commercial fishing levels, and a moratorium will allow a recovery.

Pacific Bluefin

Pacific Bluefin Photo: suppled/WWF

But the Commission has failed to act, passing the matter to its subsidiary body, the Northern Committee, asking it for a further review.

But WWF's Bubba Cook said Japan, which takes 80 percent of the bluefin catch, could easily remedy the problem.

"So the country could easily say 'so we are simply not going to accept anymore Pacific bluefin tuna'. And as a fishing nation and as a consuming nation Japan could end the crisis with Pacific bluefin today, if they wanted. So it really is a matter of political will."

A new measure to protect observers on fishing vessels in the region have been highlighted as a major victory.

The Parties to the Nauru agreement said the measure agreed at the 13th Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting would immediately improve the situation for fisheries observers.

Five observers on board fishing vessels licensed to fish in the Western and Central Pacific region have died in the last six years.

Ludwig Kumoru of the PNA said the result demonstrated the PNA's power to get policy measures at the commission.

He said the PNA achieved most of its goals at the meeting.