Coral reefs. (Photo: Cat Holloway/ WWF-Canon)
Coral Triangle Fishers Forum highlights IUU fishing
Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 22:40 (GMT + 9)
The importance of implementing seafood traceability as a measure for combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing was emphasised at the opening of the second Coral Triangle Fishers Forum this week.
More than 100 participants from the Asia-Pacific region converged at the Novotel Convention Centre in Lami, Suva, Fiji to discuss the challenge of IUU.
Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Pacific Fisheries Manager Bill Holden said the Asia-Pacific region must work to remove the market for IUU products and this can be achieved by tracing the source of the fish.
“The ultimate deterrence to stop fishers engaging in IUU practices is if they have no markets to sell their catch to,” Holden said.
“However, there are always temptations and grey areas that cause some to turn a blind eye to certain practices. Therefore, seafood traceability from the catcher to the plate is essential to eliminate IUU practices,” Holden added.
IUU preys on millions of tonnes of fish stocks within the Coral Triangle (Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste) and the Pacific region—which accounts for more than 60 per cent of global marine capture production.
IUU fishing places millions of livelihoods within the Asia-Pacific region at risk.
Fiji’s Acting Minister for Environment Colonel Timoci Natuva called for the protection of the ocean and tuna stocks.
“It’s our lifeblood, our very existence, so protecting our fisheries helps protect the ocean,” Natuva said. “Besides, we also boast the best and last remaining healthy tuna stock in the world and we want to keep it that way.”
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) South Pacific Programme Representative Kesaia Tabunakawai said nations of the region need to acknowledge that their fisheries are a finite resource that needs sustainable management for everyone’s sake.
“Traceability under a catch documentation scheme is a useful tool in identifying legally and sustainably-caught fish from others,” Tabunakawai said.
“I am a Pacific islander and live surrounded by the sea. I grew up in an oceanic environment and was brought up with an appreciation for the offerings of the sea especially for our daily sustenance.
“My work has allowed me to appreciate even more the bounties of the sea in providing food, employment and the bedrock of many economies.
“No doubt we must treat conservation and management with a sense of urgency and recognise that we are dealing with a finite resource that requires regional and joint actions to ensure its long term security,” shared Tabunakawai.
The Coral Triangle Fishers Forum runs from 18-20 June.