Oversized Spanish tuna boats threatening Pacific food security
Press release - 12 November, 2014
Tarawa, 13 November, 2014: Food security in Pacific countries like Kiribati 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 said today.
The warning follows today’s release of a
naming the Spanish boats among the world’s most destructive fishing vessels and a
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 Mr 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 monsterboats and leave,” said Mr Toribau. “That means negotiating fairly and signing a new deal in line with regional agreements to manage fish stocks collectively,” said Mr 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 access to fishing opportunities to low-impact fishers as required under the new EU Common Fisheries Policy. Greenpeace is urging Pacific Island countries, over time, to transform their fisheries to a local, sustainable model.
New photos from Kiribati:
username: photos password: green
Video about Kiribati fishing:
Lagi Toribau in Kiribati and available for comment Ph: +686 50898 (Kiribati) or +679 9254823 (Fiji)
For interviews, hi-res video, or more info, contact: Elsa Evers +61 (0) 438 204 041 (Australia)
 Scientific assessment tabled at the 10th meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) Scientific Committee in the Marshall Islands, 2014.
 The rules governing fishing fleets in the European Union (EU) have recently been reformed. The new rules require the EU to lower its fishing pressure by the start of next year (2015) to levels below the rate that will enable stocks to rebuild. They also specify that governments must promote responsible, low-impact fishing and put in place action plans to eliminate overcapacity where it exists. Fishing opportunities should preferentially be given to those operators who fish in the least environmentally damaging way and who provide the greatest benefits for society.