Wednesday, 4 June 2008 4:07 AM

Two Major Tuna Fishing Bans in Region

Two fishing-free zones will be created in the region to combat over-fishing in these waters.

Eight countries in the region have taken the important step of banning foreign fishing vessels from two zones in an effort to combat over-fishing.
According to Greenpeace, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu have all come together in a new agreement.

The agreement states that firstly, these countries will ban 'foreign fishing vessels licensed to fish in their waters from fishing in two regions of the Pacific Commons adjacent to them'.
Secondly, it also 'requires foreign fishing vessels to retain their full catches'. This means that it will 'cut the time fishing boats spend at sea and the amount of tuna they catch' as 'at present they throw away non-tuna species to make room in their holds for the more valuable catch'.
Thirdly, it will also 'be compulsory to carry fisheries observers on board at all times'.
'Fish aggregation devices (used to attract juvenile bigeye and yellowfin tuna) will be banned in these countries' waters for three months of the year. This conservation measure will discourage harvesting of these highly migratory species'.

According to a report by the Telegraph (Telegraph.co.uk), the two fishing-free zones will be firstly, between Papua New Guinea and Palau and the second 'bounded by PNG, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, the Solomon Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia'.

However, the Telegraph reports that the Pacific 'holds the last relatively robust populations of tuna and provides half the tuna consumed globally' but 'the fish are under threat from Asian fishing fleets which have exhausted their own waters. European boats are also turning to the Pacific, as Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks dwindle as a result of a decade of over-fishing'.

Concern has also been raised with regards to how these new rules will be implemented especially by countries who largely depend on aid, especially from neighbours Australia and New Zealand.
But the fact still remains that this is a major step in preserving the region's marine resources, which like any other resource, can be depleted with overuse.
And of course, completely banning fishing in the region is not a solution as it must not be forgotten that many countries in the region depend on fisheries for income and the fisheries sector also provides employment.

The new rules under the agreement effect on 15 June, 2008.

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