By PAUL OATES
The total demise of Tuna,
Could be sooner,
Than you think.
The cry of coastal PNG people “Atung istap!” (Look, there’s a ‘tuna boil’), could be just a thing of the past.
Further to my 22 May 2011 article in PNG Attitude http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2011/05/tuna-industry-must-not-strip-png-resources.html ‘Tuna industry must not strip PNG resources’, there is now an increasing concern about the sustainability of world Tuna stocks and specifically about Pacific Tuna stocks.‘Five of eight tuna species are now threatened or nearly threatened with extinction due to overfishing’, according to the Red List of Threatened Species, compiled by the Swiss-based International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
‘Between 1940 and the mid-1960s, the annual world catch of the five principal market species of tunas rose from about 300 thousand tons to about 1 million tons, most of it taken by hook and line. With the development of purse-seine nets, now the predominant gear, catches have risen to more than 4 million tons annually during the last few years. Of these catches, about 68 percent are from the Pacific Ocean, 22 percent from the Indian Ocean, and the remaining 10 percent from the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.’ the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation is quoted as saying in Wikipedia.
In a news report just posted by the ABC it highlights, ‘the Solomon Islands Government has ordered all tuna fishing fleets operating in its 200-mile exclusive economic zone to stop fishing.’In an article titled ‘Tuna species under threat’ dated 8th July 2011 by AFP, is claims: ‘Up to 90 percent of many large, open-water fish have been depleted by industrial-scale fishing over the last half-century, and marine scientists warn that continued harvesting could lead to irreversible declines of some species.
Because many are at the top of the food chain, their disappearance could also disrupt delicately balanced ecosystems.
In the case of tuna species, "the most efficient way to avoid collapse is to shut down the fisheries until stocks are rebuilt to healthy levels," the researchers concluded.
"Scientific findings should not be discarded in order to maintain short-term profit.."’
So where does that leave PNG? Well according to the Managing Director of PNG Fisheries Authority, Syvester Pokajam, four new tuna processing plants will open shortly in PNG.
Mr Pokajam claimed PNG would be able to sustainably manage its national tuna stocks however tuna is a pelagic fish and travel long distances through many different national economic fishing zones.
So hopefully the history of being able to sustainably manage marine resources won’t mimic the history of managing PNG forests, that other sustainable national resource?
22 May 2011
Tuna industry must not strip PNG resourcesBY PAUL OATES
MANAGING DIRECTOR of the National Fisheries Authority, Sylvester Pokajam, has said there will be four new tuna canneries and processing plants opened soon in PNG. This will significantly increase local employment and production.
Mr Pokajam highlighted that PNG will soon overtake the Philippines in tuna production and become second only to Thailand.In his presentation to a European conference in Brussels, Mr Pokajam indicated PNG was currently undertaking a number of projects to ensure it will be able to manage the sustainable harvesting of tuna stocks.
While this is good news, it does beg the question of what evidence was brought to the table before the decision was made to go ahead with the new processing plants.
While PNG will benefit from increased employment opportunities, there have been media reports that overseas workers are being employed in this industry.
In addition, while PNG will earn valuable foreign exchange from the export of canned tuna, if future studies indicate a decreasing resource, will a future government be able and prepared to restrict or halt production?
Hopefully, future PNG populations will continue to enjoy what is currently available.
The Philippines is well known for having effectively stripped many of its marine resources beyond the point of no return. We hope this will not be allowed to happen in PNG.