Tuna Fishing Banned in the Philippines

By Allen Estabillo

The two-year ban on purse seine tuna fishing in the Pacific Ocean has been extended for another three months following the deferment until March of last month’s scheduled annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission or WCPFC, a tuna industry leader here said.

Marfenio Tan, director of the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc. (SFFAII), said the 8th regular session of the Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean or WCPFC8 was moved to March 26-30 in Guam from its December 5-9, 2011 schedule in Koror, Palau.

He said the postponement of the meeting extended for another three months the resolution of the purse seine fishing ban in pockets of the Pacific Ocean that practically slowed down the tuna fishing industry here in the last two years.

“The WCPFC will convene on the last week of March in Guam and part of the discussions will center on whether the fishing ban will be extended or (purse seine fishing in the Pacific) will be totally banned,” Tan said.

The WCPFC, a treaty-based organization that leads the conservation and management of fish stocks in the Pacific Ocean, imposed a two-year fishing ban starting on January 1, 2010 in two pockets of the high seas in the western and eastern areas to replenish the dwindling stocks of the highly migratory tuna species.

Pocket one covers Palau, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, which are the areas closest to the Philippines and where local purse seine tuna fishing companies operate.

In an official notice to its members, cooperating non-members and participating territories dated December 22, WCPFC executive director Prof. Glenn Hurry noted that the WCPFC8 meeting will take place on March 26-30 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Guam with logistical and administrative support from the US (United States) and Guam officials.

The notice did not cite the reasons for the postponement of the meeting but a report posted last week at the global tuna resource website www.atuna.com said WCPFC8 “has been shifted to Guam after a fire in November at Palau’s main power plant.”

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