Food security in Pacific countries could be under threat if oversized tuna vessels such as the Spanish owned Albatun Tres and Albacora Uno are allowed to continue fishing at current rates, Greenpeace says.
The warning follows the release of a new report naming the Spanish boats among the world’s most destructive fishing vessels and a video featuring fishermen from Kiribati experiencing dwindling tuna catches and struggling to feed their families.
“Local Kiribati fishermen say it’s getting harder to catch tuna to feed their families, and this observation matches current science on the state of Pacific tuna,” said Greenpeace oceans campaigner Lagi Toribau.
“Bigeye tuna is down to just 16 per cent of its original population size, and foreign longliners and purse-seine vessels like the Spanish owned Albatun Tres and Albacora Uno are largely to blame,” he said.
“These two vessels catch as much tuna in three fishing trips as the entire Kiribati artisanal fleet catches in a year.”
The Albatun Tres and Albacora Uno are two of the largest tuna fishing boats in the world.
The two vessels fish in the Kiribati economic exclusion zone under a bilateral agreement with the EU.
Unlike the local Kiribati fishermen who fish sustainably, the Albatun Tres and Albacora Uno employ fish aggregation devices (FADs) that result in juvenile bigeye and yellowfin being caught before they have had a chance to breed and the Albacora Uno has been repeatedly fined for illegal fishing in the Pacific.
“For most Kiribati people, tuna is the primary source of protein – on some islands, it is the only source. If Kiribati people can’t catch tuna, they go hungry,” said Toribau.
“Meanwhile, the company behind the Albatun Tres and Albacora Uno – Albacora group – is the biggest tuna fishing company in Europe, with revenues roughly triple the GDP of Kiribati.”
“Pacific island countries receive less than 10% of the value of their fisheries. How is that fair?”
“The EU should pay a fair price and respect Pacific fishing rules or take its monster boats and leave,” said Toribau.
“That means negotiating fairly and signing a new deal in line with regional agreements to manage fish stocks collectively,” said Toribau.
“The EU must play its part in reducing foreign fishing capacity in the region to allow bigeye and other tuna stocks to recover and local, sustainable fisheries in Pacific Island countries to flourish,” he added.
Greenpeace launched a global campaign last week calling on people to support low impact fishers and help ensure fair fishing.
By focusing attention on some of the top culprits of global overfishing, the campaign challenges governments to eliminate excessive fishing capacity and to give preferential a Greenpeace is urging Pacific Island countries, over time, to transform their fisheries to a local, sustainable model.