Elpidio V. Peria
30 November 2014

The Agence France Presse reported yesterday that small Pacific island states and powerful fishing nations are heading for a showdown next week when its meets from December 1 to 5, over management of the world’s largest tuna fishery as the island states want the annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCFPC) in Samoa to limit fishing for big-eye, a tuna prized by sashimi markets in Asia, America and Europe.

According to the report, the small island states also want limits on catches of other tuna, particularly yellowfin, to maintain stocks.

Nearly 60% of global tuna supplies, valued at US$ 6 billion, comes from the central and western Pacific, which has been “fished unsustainably, contrary to strong scientific and management advise”, said Amanda Nickson, director of Global Tuna Conservation at the Washington-based Pew Charitable Trusts. “Today, 50 more large-scale purse seine vessels are fishing these waters than 10 years ago”, Nickson further said.

When one looks at the data for big-eye tuna catch for 2013 provided by the WCFPC Secretariat in its website, based on production data provided by Parties to the Convention on which the WCFPC is based, the number one producer is Republic of Korea, at 12, 818 MT, followed by Japan, at 11, 723 MT, China, at 10, 671 MT and Chinese Taipei, at 10, 600 MT.

The Philippines produced a mere 167 MT of big-eye tuna in 2013.

As for yellowfin tuna, the number one producer in 2013 is Indonesia at 8,271 MT; followed by Japan, at 7,778 MT, then Republic of Korea at 5,716 MT and China at 4, 638 MT.

The Philippines, among other countries that fish in the area, managed to catch a mere TWENTY-SEVEN, yes, 27 MT, of tuna.

Of course, these figures don’t show the complete picture, as there can be other Filipino fishing companies that operate fishing vessels under different flags, and there are still other methods of fishing that are not examined, for the purposes of this blog post. The data on yellowfin and big-eye tuna were the ones examined as they are the fish species that will be affected in this showdown among the small island states and the other fishing nations who want to continue fishing in these areas.

With the looming showdown and the possible fishing ban or severe reduction of fishing in the Pacific to enable the fish stocks to recover, this could imperil the Philippines’ bid to secure entry into the EU tuna market through the soon-to-be negotiated EU-Philippines Free Trade Agreement.


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