Rejection of fishing regulation

The world’s fish supply is in danger. As previously stated on this website, fishing must be practiced sustainably; the shift to sustainable practices will require work from all parties involved, including those who fish and those who eat the fish. However, not all countries are willing to regulate the practice. The Science and Development Network reports that the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission saw negotiations over regulations come to a halt in late March when Pacific island countries and Australia could not come to an agreement with China, Japan, the European Union, and the United States regarding various types of tuna.

“Hang on!” I hear you cry. “There’s more than one type of tuna?” Yes, there is; the tuna in the can is not the same as the tuna in sushi or the tuna used in sashimi, though all are in danger. Big-eye tuna is the type used in sushi and has been overfished for a long time; the Commission’s Scientific Committee states that this fish is 80% depleted with little hope in sight. Yellowfin tuna, also called ahi, is traditionally used in sashimi and other raw dishes; it has been used to replace other types of tuna, but is now reaching the sustainability limit. Skipjack tuna is the variety seen in cans; the Scientific Committee says that it “needs to be watched closely” to avoid a similar fate.

The major category of debate, however, concerns fishing methods rather than tuna sub-species. Fish aggregating devices, or FADs, are currently banned for three months per year, and some countries would like to see that number increase. As the name implies, FADs serve to aggregate, or gather, fish around floating objects to make them easier to catch. The problem is that FADs attract and catch other species as well, such as turtles and sharks. Another disputed fishing method is purse-seine nets. These large nets encircle an area and close at the bottom to prevent any fish from swimming down and escaping. Current regulations give all power to the fisher, who has ultimate control over what he may and may not catch. But because negotiations were entirely distracted by arguments on tuna, we never saw the necessary decision to change policies. Talk about a tangent, huh?


From: Emily Fineberg ’15
Published: May 6, 2012