Blogpost by YuFen Kao, Greenpeace East Asia
I’m here at the Pacific Tuna Commission, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission annual meeting in Guam. We’re one day into the meeting and the delegates are deep in discussion over important conservation measures that can help reverse the overfishing crisis. These include setting aside the Pacific Commons as off-limits to fishing. We’ve sent twelve campaigners from different offices here to lobby these politicians and brief industry representatives here – this is where much of our work will come to fruition. Here’s what we’ve been up to in Taiwan recently to save our Pacific and send a message to delegates here in Guam.
Two days ago, the Greenpeace ship Esperanza entered Taiwan harbour for the first time, receiving a warm welcome from hundreds of local kids waving banners painted with marine creatures. The ship hosted journalists and Taiwanese people from all walks of life for a photo exhibition about the crisis facing our oceans. We also held a press conference, to remind the people of Taiwan that Greenpeace is here to work with the people and industries who need tuna for the future to address overfishing. We are engaging in many dialogues in Taiwan about how to end overfishing: listening to any suggestion that will lead to positive change for our oceans and opposing any proposal that undermines the efforts to ensure healthy and viable Pacific fisheries for the future.
We then brought our message of oceans protection to the Taiwanese Fisheries Agency (FA)’s southern headquarters in Khaosiung. We projected our demands that Taiwan be a more responsible player at the WCPFC on the building, letting them know that the world is watching what they do this week in Guam. As one of the world’s largest fishing powers, Taiwan has an important voice at the Pacific Tuna Commission, and for too long this has been a voice against oceans conservation. We’re working to change that in Taiwan and here in Guam as well.
The FA last week confirmed their support for two fundamental conservation measures currently in place – the protection of the Western Pacific Commons from purse seine fishing and a temporary ban on destructive FADs. While Taiwan is the first distant water fishing power to publicly support the conservation measures to be discussed, there’s still much more they could be doing. The problems that are being addressed here in Guam aren’t only impacting tuna. All of the life in our oceans and those dependent on them for food and jobs are impacted by overfishing. That’s why we’re working with governments to create more marine reserves, including in the Pacific Commons, and convincing tuna businesses to support wide-reaching ocean conservation. After all, oceans don’t separate us, they bring us together. We’ll keep you posted on how we are going in our efforts to bring delegates together in support of healthy oceans here in Guam.
YuFen Kao is an oceans campaigner based in Greenpeace East Asia’s Taipei office.