New report provides roadmap to transform Pacific tuna fisheries

Suva/Sydney, August 5, 2013 – A new report, launched today by Greenpeace Australia Pacific, provides a blueprint for how Pacific Island governments and regional bodies can promote a more sustainable and locally owned and operated tuna fishery in the region.

The report – titled Transforming Tuna Fisheries in Pacific Island Countries: An Alternative Model of Development –makes detailed recommendations for how to develop smaller-scale and locally owned fisheries that will maximise economic returns, create local jobs and better protect countries’ precious tuna reserves for the long term.

Oceans campaigner Duncan Williams says Greenpeace is advocating support for sustainable and equitable tuna fisheries to prevent a tuna crisis in the Pacific – the biggest tuna fishery in the world.

“In Australia and the UK all major tuna brands and retailers are now committed to buying only responsibly sourced tuna. Pacific Island countries can put themselves in the driver’s seat and reap the benefits of this shift.”

Lead author of the report, Dr Kate Barclay from Sydney’s University of Technology (UTS) says, “While the Western and Central Pacific Ocean supplies over 60 per cent of all tuna consumed globally, profits made out of this resource are not reaching the small island economies from where the tuna is sourced.

“A shift away from the large-scale industrial model of fishing, towards smaller-scale vessels operated in coastal island countries by communities and local entrepreneurs should result in greater economic benefits for Pacific countries, and place management of the resources more effectively within their control.”

Most tuna fishing in the Pacific is done by foreign vessels which pay access fees to island countries, usually only 5-6 percent of the landed value of the fish.

Greenpeace’s Duncan Williams says, “This report shows how governments and regional organisations can encourage the development of small and medium scale fishing entities, particularly artisanal fisheries.

“Emerging market opportunities for socially responsible and environmentally sustainable seafood offer a new route to develop domestic tuna fisheries in the Pacific,” said Mr Williams.

The report was compiled over a period of two years and is a collaborative effort between academic experts, tuna fisheries practitioners and Greenpeace.

Key recommendations focus on:


  • Better managing the tuna fishery – eg exclude large-scale and destructive foreign-owned vessels from national waters or parts thereof.


  • Boosting Pacific Islander involvement and investment – eg address unfavourable cost structures for domestic fisheries through taxation reform and introduce higher access costs for distant water vessels.


  • Promoting artisanal fisheries – eg reserve inshore and archipelagic areas for sustainable artisanal fisheries only.
  • Raising awareness of sustainable and responsible tuna fisheries to build and sustain market demand for pole and line, handline and artisanal tuna fisheries.


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