Target: Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission
Goal: Prevent the overfishing of vulnerable species
Despite recent protections granted to vulnerable whale sharks—which are threatened by purse seine nets deployed around them to catch bigeye tuna, which tend to aggregate around large sharks—the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) failed to address one of the most pressing issues: the threats to marine life from overfishing. The WPCFC made no change in management measures to protect just one of the many species threatened by human exploitation. It is time to create a set of regulations to prevent overfishing.
Also unaddressed by the WCPFC was the use of fish aggregation devices, which draw in schools of tuna and are used in a majority of fishing operations in record numbers. The far-reaching effects of these devices are not yet known, and no limits for their use were set despite the advice of the commission’s own science advisers to do so. Instead, the countries belonging to the WPCFC effectively debated how much overfishing to allow.
The world’s oceans are already undergoing an alarming decline of fish stocks as human activity takes a toll. Though whale sharks are now protected from entanglement and death in these nets, other species were not granted the same consideration. Sharks will still be threatened by bycatch, and tuna stocks will still unsustainable exploitation, as even juveniles are slaughtered, severely impacting future populations. Unless overfishing is banned, sustainable management practices are put into action, and fish stocks are protected from exploitation, the world’s fisheries will collapse. Demand regulations that will prevent this from happening.
Dear Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission,
Though I was pleased to learn that setting seine nets around whale sharks has been banned, I was disappointed that the serious issue of overfishing was not addressed. Bigeye tuna are harvested at an unsustainable rate, using FADs that as of yet have an unknown impact on fish populations. So many species of fish are already on the brink of collapse and in desperate need of protection. Unless sustainability is made a priority and acted upon, the populations of bigeye tuna cannot recover and will continue to decline.
The WCPFC is a leader in ocean conservation and management, but the decision to protect whale sharks notwithstanding, the commission missed the opportunity to protect other at-risk sharks or reduce bycatch.
I ask that you take all necessary steps to preserve and protect these species before a catastrophic collapse, enact conservation methods for all vulnerable marine animals, and ask that all countries of the WCPFC address and end overfishing. I understand that fisheries are of vital economic importance, but we are effectively shooting ourselves in the foot by refusing to harvest the oceans in a sustainable and environmentally conscious manner. Unless something is done to end overfishing—not just determining how much over exploitation is allowable—we are facing a truly devastating loss of fish stocks across the world.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Epipelagic via Wikimedia Commons