The future of the world's tuna population may be in Filipino hands, environmental group Greenpeace said after a ban on tuna fishing in a part of the Pacific was partially lifted for Philippine fishing vessels.
"The Philippines has been given concessions, but is expected to ensure conservation measures within its territorial waters as its contribution to protecting tuna populations. Failure will not only result in less tuna, but will affect the livelihoods of everyone who depend on tuna fisheries in the Pacific,” Mark Dia, Oceans Campaign Manager for Greenpeace Southeast Asia said in a press statement.
"All eyes will now be on the Philippines to make good its commitments to conservation and management measures," he also said. He noted that the Philippines will host the next round of tuna conservation talks in December.
Part of the Pacific Ocean, called the Pacific Commons, has been closed to tuna fishing since 2010 to allow the tuna numbers to replenish and grow.
Since October last year, PH had been asking multinational Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to allow Philippine fishing ships some access to a proposed High Seas Pocket 1 Special Management Area.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said fishers have been catching less tuna because of the ban.
It again made that request last month at a WCPFC session in Guam late last month. According to a Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources position paper submitted to WCPFC, Philippine fishing vessels will give advance notice before entering the Special Management Area.
They will also have regional observers on board while fishing in the area and will have to give advance notice before leaving the Special Management Area.
Ships will also have to install an automatic location communicator to track their movements.
The Special Management Area is bounded by the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.