Ministers from some of the world’s largest fishing powers, including the EU, the US, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines recently gathered at a high-level international conference in Greece, where they reiterated commitments to reduce global fishing capacity and to ensure accurate information on fishing is readily available, including through the creation of a global record of vessels . The conference was organized in Thessaloniki by the European Commission under the auspices of the Greek presidency of the European Union. The conference declaration, which also aims at improving data collection to assess stocks and fishing capacity, was signed by several countries including the EU, the United States, Japan, Colombia and Indonesia.
However, Greenpeace warned that it is high time for governments to turn words into effective action to ensure a healthy future for fisheries and fishermen around the world. Similar commitments have been made already years ago, but have not necessarily tuned into effective action. In June 1999, the FAO adopted the International Plan of Action (IPOA) for the Management of Fishing Capacity, whose immediate objective was for “States and regional fisheries organizations, to achieve world-wide preferably by 2003, but not later than 2005, an efficient, equitable and transparent management of fishing capacity”. A number of other global instruments and conferences have emphasized the same call, but global fishing capacity has continued to expand regardless.
Excessive fishing capacity drives overfishing and illegal fishing, displaces coastalcommunities, causing environmental harm and making fishing fleets economically unviable. The EU fishing fleet, for example, is able to catch two to three times more fish than is sustainable in most fisheries.
“Across Southeast Asia, many fishing grounds are already either depleted or currently being overfished. The capacity of the fishing fleets— specifically the larger commercial vessels— are decimating the marine resources to the detriment of coastal communities,” said Mark Dia, Regional Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
“Governments in Southeast Asia should take the lead in this global effort to restore the health of our seas by managing the ability of their own fleets to fish, in line with the state of fish stocks. These countries must also ensure that they develop their fishing capacity in a way that is sustainable, benefit their coastal communities and is based on low-impact gears and best available practices,” added Dia.Greenpeace wants the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia to start by scrapping the largest and most destructive industrial fishing vessels, initiating a shift towards small-scale low-impact fishing, which is more environmentally sustainable and creates jobs to supports local communities.
The Philippines has had their exemption to commercial purse seine tuna fishing access in the high seas pockets in the Pacific extended again at the last Western and CentralPacific Commission Meeting in Australia last December.
“The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has admitted that we have nearly finished up all the tuna in our waters and this is the reason why we now need to send the commercial fleets all the way to the Pacific high seas,” added Dia. “If we only took care of our own resources and fishing grounds, then there will be more than enough fish to feed our people. We must reverse the current trend of overfishing in the Philippines and around the world. Better management of fishing capacity is critical and long overdue.”
For more information:Mark Dia, Regional Oceans Campaigner, +63917- 8430549, firstname.lastname@example.org. Virginia Llorin, Media Campaiger, +63917-8228793, email@example.com