Pacific countries losing out in fisheries trade
Tupouseini Taumoepeau | Port Vila, Vanuatu
The Pacific Islands are urged to regain power over their ocean resources as forum leaders begin talks on the region’s most urgent issues in Port Vila this week.
Developing a sustainable fishing industry is a pressing issue, which includes Pacific nations being able to gain more out of their own resources.
Of the USD 3.4 billion earned every year from the Pacific fishing industry, island nations reap only 5 to 6 percent, according to Greenpeace.
Most of this revenue is earned through licensing fees for foreign ships to fish in local waters.
Greenpeace activists Lagi Toribau and Seini Nabou say that Pacific nations deserve a portion of the huge income foreign countries bring in from local fish stocks.
“It’s like bringing people into our house without them paying,” says Toribau.
At the same time Island nations have to deal with depleting resources due to overfishing by these boats, especially tuna stocks. The Pacific catch account for about half of the world’s total.
“Overfishing is a threat to the future of fisheries and marine life. Reducing [commercial] fishing by at least fifty percent is one of the answers – it’s that drastic,” says Toribau
He adds that some of the boats that fish in the Pacific region cannot be regulated by governments because they fall outside the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of the Islands.
“There are four major high sea pockets in the Pacific area and we are calling for the closure of these areas,” says Toribau.
While two have successfully been protected from commercial exploitation, efforts are ongoing to further protect two other areas in the North Western Pacific.
“Greenpeace is also monitoring the works of other sea activities such as deep sea mining and the impacts of this on sea life,” adds Nabou.
Greenpeace is working with Pacific Governments on policies that could create more stability in the Pacific fishing industries.
Nabou and Toribau spoke at a Greenpeace media workshop hosted by the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) held in Port Vila on Monday.
Tupouseini Taumoepeau is a Graduate Diploma in Journalism student at AUT University. She is currently on assignment at the Pacific Islands Forum in Port Vila, Vanuatu. This article was originally published on Pacific Scoop.