The Philippines Now Has Access to a Tuna Paradise

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The 25 member-states of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission have lifted a two-year ban on some of the world's prime tuna-mating waters. The Guardian reports the group approved a request by the Philippines to send its tuna fleet back into Pocket 1 and Pocket 2, as defined by the commission, as long as they report their catch and limit the fleet to 36 boats. The proposals by South Korea and the European Community to declare the pockets a free-for-all fishing zone were turned down.

Pocket 1, according to the Philippines' Business Mirror, was identified as the "area of high seas bounded by the Exclusive Economic Zones [EEZs] of the Federated States of Micronesia to the north and east, Republic of Palau to the west, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to the south." Since we aren't commercial fisherman, or jaunty sailors, we Google Mapped a rough estimation of exactly where this tuna den seems to be. Pocket 2 is "bounded by the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tuvalu, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and parts of Kiribati."

The Guardian reports that the ban was initially implemented in 2010 to stem the depletion of bigeye tuna, who like to call Pockets 1 and 2 home. The WCFC is hoping to avoid a "Wall of Death" situation that occurs in the Mediterranean sea. And though the limited-access laws to Pocket 1 sounds semi-reasonable to the one Greenpeace member that The Guardian spoke to ("They knew that everybody would suffer if a free-for-all access is granted"), Lagi Toribau, Greenpeace Australia's Pacific oceans campaigner, is less pleased:

This meeting unravelled protection for the region’s tuna populations and the Pacific Commons areas that have been off limits to purse seine fishing for the last two years. This is a disappointing step backward. The Pacific region relies on tuna for food, jobs and economic prosperity and the Commission’s decisions go against the wants and needs of the region’s people, the world’s consumers, and forward-thinking businesses

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