|Tuna boat searching for tuna|
Photo: FLMNH Ichthyology Dept. & USGS
The WCPFC is an international organization formed in 1994 after six years of negotiations. It has 25 member states (listed below). It was established by the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. As its name implies, its mission is interpret how local conditions apply to the U.N. Fish Stock Agreements (UNFSA). This includes managing unregulated fishing, excessive fleet capacity, vessel re-flagging to establish legal regulations, insufficient gear and outfitting, provide more reliable data and to generally promote the conservation of migratory fish stocks.
The ban began two years ago in January 2010. Its goal was to conserve the bigeye tuna population, which scientists had concluded was being overfished. It was also hoped that the ban would help grow the populations of other types of fish populations that were beginning to dwindle including skipjack, yellowfin, and albacore tuna.
As of March 2012, the ban has been lifted for certain countries but they must abide by strict regulations. Other nations still do no have access. The countries with permission to fish in pocket 1 are the Philippines, Japan and South Korea. Those able to fish in pocket 2 are Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia.
Granting permission to some nations and not to others is controversial. The Philippines is the third top tuna harvester in the Pacific. The ban has been an economic hardship on its local fisherman who have refocused their efforts in local Filipino territorial waters. This is a traditional spawning region and may be placing additional pressure on migratory fish populations.
- Cook Islands
- European Union
- Federated States of Micronesia
- Fiji, France
- Republic of Marshall Islands
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- Solomon Islands
- Chinese Taipei
- United States of America
- American Samoa
- Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
- French Polynesia
- New Caledonia
- El Salvador