Sustainable Tuna Fishing


All over the globe, fish stocks are in an alarming state, mainly due to overfishing by oversized and destructive fishing fleets. In fact, 90% of global fish stocks are either fully exploited, overexploited or even depleted. That makes it almost impossible for consumers to eat fish in a sustainable way.

The only real solution is to change the way we fish. Destructive fishing, such as purse seine fishing, must be replaced by low-impact fishing practices – for example, hand-lines, traps or coastal nets with a minimum impact on our oceans and fish stocks. In fact, purse seine fishing that use fish aggregating devices (FADs) should be banned as this does not discriminate on the types and size of species being caught – this includes sharks, birds, turtles, and whales. Large amounts of juvenile tuna are also harvested, devastating tuna stock.

As the worldwide tuna population declines, the age-old fishing tradition of handline fishing in Palawan in the Philippines remains a shining example of a sustainable fishing method. The island province is a major source for sustainably-caught yellowfin tuna.

Local fisherfolk honour the age-old practice of handline fishing, where they only use a single-hook to catch fish individually. This selective fishing method contributes to the sustainability of tuna stock, since it is more likely to target large mature tuna, giving juveniles a better chance to survive and reproduce. As an added benefit, handliners are able to sell their mature tuna at a much higher price, but still just enough to cover their cost since these fishermen have to travel further out at sea and stay for much longer periods to be able to catch yellowfin tuna.

Globally, Greenpeace is calling on governments to boost existing low impact and sustainable fishing methods to catch tuna, such as to handline tuna fishing and pole and line fishing. Additionally, Greenpeace advocates for the reduction of the number of fishing boats going after declining fish stock.

In the Philippines, laws should be strengthened against catching, and trading of juvenile tuna. Greenpeace believes that for the Philippine tuna industry to have a future, strict policies must be in place to only allow fishing capacity that does not deplete fishing grounds, and ensure fair and sustainable fishing for both small-scale and commercial fisheries. The government should also provide much needed protection for tuna spawning grounds within Philippines waters.

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