A fisherman weighs a yellowfin tuna in Mindanao. (photo: John Javellana/Greenpeace)
The Philippines stands to lose its lucrative tuna markets unless it fully embraces sustainable fishing practices, environmental group Greenpeace warned today. The country must crack down on illegal and unregulated fishing and abandon its call to lift the ban on the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) in the Pacific, it said. The statement preceded this week's meeting in Guam of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and follows a report that shows growing global market demand for responsibly-sourced tuna as a response to the rapid decline of tuna stocks. “Many of the major global markets for tuna, such as the UK and Canada, are now demanding fish caught using sustainable means. They fully realize that the current rate of fishing cannot continue,” said Mark Dia, Greenpeace Southeast Asia oceans campaigner. “The Philippines has to ensure that it is recognized as a certified source, otherwise the country risks losing out to other players.” The WCPFC meeting is crucial in deciding the future of Pacific tuna. Decisions taken by the body this week will have repercussions on tuna populations for generations to come, said Dia. Parts of the Pacific have been closed to FAD fishing for the past three years as a result of conservation measures taken by the WCPFC in response to the decline in bigeye and yellowfin tuna stocks. The Philippines has been lobbying to reverse these conservation measures, Greenpeace’s Dia said. “It is time that the Philippines realize that their efforts to open the High Seas Pockets to FAD fishing will be detrimental in the longer term. We need to take conservation measures now both domestically and internationally in order to ensure fish for the future,” he added. The Philippines is the second largest canned tuna producer in the western and central Pacific after Thailand and the third biggest worldwide. The region is the world’s largest tuna fishery, source of around 60 percent of the world’s supplies. Greenpeace has just released two Pacific tuna reports: one outlining progress taken by tuna companies to save Pacific tuna in recent years and another, detailing illegal fishing activities, documented by Greenpeace during its 2011 “Defending our Pacific” ship tour.