MANILA, Philippines – Environment watchdog Greenpeace on Saturday said it is set to submit evidence showing that the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries recently violated fishing rules.
The dossier detailing the alleged violations will be submitted to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), also known as the Pacific Tuna Commission, when it arrives in the Philippines on Sunday to discuss declining tuna stocks.
Greenpeace said the countries incurred several violations, including illegal transhipment, operating without permits, failure to report via the mandatory Vessel Monitoring System, operating without presence of mandatory observers, and illegal deployment of fish aggregating devices (FADs).
"While at sea, we saw firsthand that pirate fishing and destructive fishing methods abound in the Pacific. The evidence we gathered clearly demonstrate failure by governments and industries to comply with the most basic rules they themselves have instituted through the Tuna Commission," said Greenpeace campaigner Chow Yuen Ping.
Ping arrived in Manila on Saturday onboard the Greenpeace ship Esperanza for the WCPFC summit which ends on December 6. The ship will remain docked in Manila for the “Ocean Defender Ship Tour” from December 8 to 15.
The Philippines, the host of this week’s WCPFC meeting, was granted rights for 36 vessels to fish in Pocket 1, the area of international waters between the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia and Papua New Guinea.
The area was previously closed to all fishing vessels.
"For several years now, Greenpeace has shown the vulnerability of international waters to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. Members of the commission must now agree to close pockets of international waters in the Pacific to halt fishing violations and allow tuna stocks to replenish," said Lagi Toribau, Greenpeace head of delegation to WCPFC.