NEW ZEALAND OPEN TO IDEAS ON TUNA CONSERVATION

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Greenpeace wants total shutdown in Pacific

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Aug. 24, 2010) - The head of New Zealand’s delegation to the regional Tuna Commission meeting later this year says this country has an open mind about the best way to halt the decline in Pacific tuna stocks.

Greenpeace is calling for the New Zealand government to support plans to close all four areas of international waters in the Pacific to all fishing.

[PIR editor’s note: Last March, Radio New Zealand International reported that "more than 25,000 tuna are expected to be tagged this year as part of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s National Fisheries Pacific Tuna tagging programme." Tagging is used to gather information on the impact fisheries have on tuna numbers in the Pacific. See story.]

The head of New Zealand’s delegation, Matthew Hooper, says he is not sure that the proposal for total closure is supported by all Pacific nations and Australia:

"I know that some of the Pacific Island countries that neighbor those pockets do have fishing interests, be it long line fishing or whatever in those areas and also development aspirations in respect to them. It is important with proposals like this that everyone is clear about what actually is being put forward, is it a complete ban to all fishing, or is it just certain fishing methods and also to then be able to discuss whether there are other alternatives that might be more effective."

The research presented to a scientific meeting in Tonga last week indicates an ongoing decline of the large tuna species such as Bigeye and Yellowfin.

The technical meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission also heard that stock of the smaller skipjack tuna is now under pressure.

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