Now or never for Solomons fisheries: Greenpeace

Posted: 29 April 2008

Greenpeace has launched two reports which highlight the fragility of the Solomon Islands' two key natural resources, fisheries and forestry, and provide practical and ecologically responsible solutions to ensure their viability for generations to come.

Greenpeace activists from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza have targeted Taiwanese, South Korean and American trawlers, painting "Tuna overkill" on the side of one boat to call for an end to the over-fishing of two key species, the bigeye and the yellowfin tuna.

Pacific bigeye and Eastern Atlantic bluefin are now listed as critically endangered on the World Conservation Union (WCU) Redlist, meaning they are at high risk of extinction in the near future.

Greenpeace campaign against tuna overfishing
Greenpeace campaign against tuna overfishing
Greenpeace activists take action against US tuna purse seiner Cape Finisterre, part of the overfishing problem in the Pacific.Photo © Greenpeace / Paul Hilton
Greenpeace says there are now nearly 600 purse seiners and over 3,600 tuna longliners fishing the South Pacific, as well as an unknown number of unregistered pirate vessels, many from South America.

As other parts of the world are fished out, the Pacific has come to provide around 60 per cent of the world's tuna catch.

"This is clearly not sustainable", said oceans campaigner Lagi Toribau on board the Esperanza.

"There needs to be an immediate closure of the Pacific Commons to all fishing, along with a 50 per cent cut to tuna fishing within Pacific island country waters.

"Only then will the livelihoods of Pacific nations, these tuna stocks and all other marine life be protected and allowed to recover from overexploitation."

Logging out of control

"The Solomon Islands will be in a dire social, environmental and economic situation if the grave mistakes made with industrial logging are repeated with tuna fisheries," said Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO, Steve Shallhorn.

"Greenpeace recommends an immediate review of the logging sector and switch to small-scale sustainable community logging to save the forests. To ensure the health of the tuna fishery for future generations, the Solomons Islands government must call for the closure of the pockets of international waters and commit to significant cuts to tuna fishing of up to 50 per cent."

Logging has been the key economic resource for the Solomon Islands over the last two decades, but rampant logging has decimated the country's forests and have had serious impacts on society and the environment.

The Greenpeace report Securing the Future: An alternative plan for Solomon Island forests and economy calls for an immediate moratorium on all new logging licences and the cancellation of any license that breaches the law. It also recommends the forestry sector move away from industrial logging for round log exports and towards community-based eco-forestry, exporting sawn timber and investigating the potential for the Solomon Island forests to benefit from carbon trading.

"According to our analysis, eco-forestry timber is 58 per cent more profitable to landowners and the government than round logs for export," said Greenpeace Forests campaigner, Geoff Dennis. "It also provides direct employment for communities and allows them to retain control over their forest resources and maintain the forest for existing customary uses."

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Oceans campaigner Josua Turaganivalu commenting on the 'Taking Tuna Out of the Can' report said it is a plan that will rescue the future of Pacific tuna and allow sustainable fishing.

"The report tells supermarket retailers across the world not to buy tuna from unsustainable sources and to create supply chains to prove their tuna do not come from foreign industrial fleets. These fleets are ripping off small island states by unfair access agreements and are depriving sources from coastal states and resource owners," he said.

Links:To read the Greenpeace report, 'Taking Tuna out of the Can', go here.Bloated fishing fleets hunting last bluefin tuna