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Pacific Tuna Fisheries Score Sustainable Wins at WCPFC Meeting, But WWF Calls for More Action

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) wrapped up its 20th meeting with a glimmer of hope for the future of Pacific tuna. After marathon negotiations, members agreed on four key measures to improve sustainability:

Target reference point for south Pacific albacore: This sets a clear benchmark for managing the species, ensuring it doesn’t face overfishing.

Pan-Pacific harvest strategy for north Pacific albacore: This coordinated approach will help ensure the long-term health of this migratory species.

Increased longline observer coverage: Finally, longline fisheries, known for their lack of transparency, will face greater scrutiny with increased observer presence.

Strengthened skipjack tuna management: A new link between existing tropical tuna management and skipjack-specific measures will provide better oversight for this vital species.

WWF, a long-time advocate for sustainable tuna fisheries, welcomes these steps but warns that the work is far from over. “While we applaud these measures, we must remember that the fight for sustainable Pacific tuna is far from over,” said a WWF spokesperson.

The environmental organization emphasizes the need for further action, calling for:

Enhanced monitoring and scientific observation: WWF urges the WCPFC to embrace electronic tools for better data collection and transparency, particularly in the under-monitored tropical and southern longline fisheries.

Tackling urgent conservation challenges: WWF highlights the need for measures like fish aggregating device (FAD) tracking and retrieval, addressing seabird bycatch, and protecting endangered sharks.

Finalizing labor standards: Ensuring fair and safe working conditions for fishers is crucial for ethical and sustainable fisheries practices.

WWF acknowledges the complexity of managing these fisheries, but stresses the urgency of action. “Time is running out for the iconic biodiversity of the Pacific,” said the spokesperson. “The WCPFC must continue to make progress, and WWF will be there to push for further improvements.”

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