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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

How Greenpeace is threatening our game fishery

Here we go again with this Greenpeace crap, This Greenpeace campaign attacking FAD purse seine caught tuna and advocating a change to pole and line caught tuna for the canned tuna market should be stopped immediately it is irresponsible and clearly environmental vandalism, We need to quantify the effects of the current bait fishery used in the pole and line tuna fishery, before we even think about advocating for its expansion!

Waring this video contains very few facts

Purse seine fishing has one of the lowest by-catch rates of any fishing type, a recent peer-reviewed paper found that Purse seine by-catch rates set on FADS was less than 4% in the Indian Ocean, 3.6% in the Indian Ocean and less than 2% in the western Pacific, where most of the world’s tuna is caught! Verified by independent on-board observers.

Sharks make up less than two tonnes per thousand tonnes of tuna, that’s 0.2%.

It’s estimated that 200 turtles are caught in purse seine nets each year worldwide, with 95% of those released unharmed.

Catching tuna with pole and line uses 4 times the amount of fuel per ton of caught tuna, compared to purse seine methods.

Pole and Line tuna fishing makes up 10% of the canned tuna market and uses up to 48,000 tonnes of bait fish annually. The Super Trawler had a quota of 18,000 tonnes. A 100% pole and line fishery could use up to 480,000 tonnes of bait fish.

(The by-catch of marlin by commercial fishers in the Pacific Ocean, Julian Pepperell BlueWater Boats & Sportsfishing magazine. Issue 102, 2014.)
Longlining accounts for 83% of the total catch, other methods such as gillnetting for 13% and purse seining for 3%.

Sustainability experts, scientists and fisherman are investing more than $25 million to develop even more sustainable practises, but Greenpeace has refused to join that effort.

So why is Greenpeace advocating the change to pole and line? Simple! Greenpeace has to raise $700,000 a day to maintain their operating budget. It’s clear that donations come before what’s best for our marine environment. John West is one of the largest canned tuna suppliers and they use purse seine FAD techniques, so Greenpeace being Greenpeace think they are a good target to increase donations.

The effect of Pole and Line tuna fishing on our fishery
What could be the effect if the entire canned tune market is forced to move to pole and line fishing, well they have the potential to be disastrous to our game fishery.  In my opinion it’s possibly the single biggest threat to our fishery, let me explain.

First of all there is the bait usage, now consider up to 480,000 tonnes of bait fished removed from our doorstep every year, makes the 18,000 tonne Super Trawler quota insignificant!  And this bait fish for the pole and line fishery would be harvested from an area that is much smaller than the area the Super Trawler would have fished.

This line and pole bait fishery is not regulated or managed. Even the Pole and line foundation has concerns about the impact of the bait fishery. MSC who have certified this fishery as sustainable cannot answer my questions, but simply refer me to research that claims we need lots more research in this very area.

There has been no concerted effort to quantify the effects of this bait fishery or how it affects other species, or the species we target!

Currently Purse seine set on FADs happens in a number of places, the EEZ’s of the Marshall Islands,
Nauru, Kiribati, and Tuvaluare where a substantial amount of the purse seining in the region occurs, but those countries have very limited baitfish resources. The countries in the east of the region generally do not have substantial baitfish resources. Baitfish resources would dictate that a replacement of purse seining by pole and line fishing would mean a large displacement of surface tuna fishing activities towards the western part of the region just to Australia’s north. Meaning the a major part of the entire canned tuna fishing effort would be happening at our backdoor in and around our SBT and Yellow fin tuna spawning grounds. This is where the bait is and the pole and line effort could only fish a few days away from the bait ground if that.

The Pole and line catches hit their peak in the 1980’s, incadenlty coinciding with the crash of the SBT stocks. The Maldives was the biggest pole and line fishery
at this time and a large part of the bait used was collected near the SBT spawning ground.
Did the pole and line bait collection have some impact on the SBT stocks? We don’t know as there has never been any research into this area. What we do know is that there is at least some evidence that juvenile endangered Yellow Fin Tuna have been uses as bait to catch Skip Jack Tuna. We also know that there is a by-catch issue with the bait harvesting.
This is from the International Pole and Line Foundation own report into the bait for pole and line fishing.

Bait-fishing operations may deplete the source of food for larger, piscivorous species on which the food fishery relies (Rawlinson 1989).

Baitfish species are food for numerous other species of reef fish, so catching them on a large scale may detrimentally affect others in the food web (Anderson 2009).

The most frequently voiced concern is that the removal of baitfish for pole-and-line reduces the available forage for larger species (Ianelli 1992; Leqata et al. 1990).

Rawlinson, by-catch of adult fish totals over a whole season in a heavily bait fished area could be sizeable and potentially damaging to the food fishery (Rawlinson 1989).

Anderson (2009) estimated that by-catch of non-target reef species, constituted up to 30% of bait catches

Some might remember back in 2012 when we ran a few WeFish articles on this very issue, when Greenpeace Australia ran this campaign. Well that resulted in Greenpeace claiming their campaign was not intended to changed he market to pole and line caught canned tuna, this is what they had to say after our article.

Even if you look at the Greenpeace Australia Facebook post on this exact same video, they are the only Greenpeace in the world not to be advocating an increase of pole and line fishing, instead using it to advocate for Seafood labelling changes.

Greenpeace Australia is the only Greenpeace in the world, running with this angle. They are alone in the world of nutty lentil eating extreme fundamentalist’s. Yet we have fishing journalists posting this Greenpeace propaganda campaign video that has the real potential if successful to completely destroy our game fishery.

One says in his post.

“Check this out pretty graphic footage showing what goes into a canned tuna. No wonder the tuna have been scarce! In my view if you buy any canned tuna you support this stuff- what does everyone think?”
The trouble is when you politely tell him what you think and present some fact, not on a public forum to embarrass him but privately, he gets shitty and bans you from his page!
Well here it is if you call yourself a fishing journalist, and you not only couldn’t be bothered spending 5 min researching, but when someone wastes their time to send you the information you get shitty, then perhaps you should refrain from publicly commenting on the subject that you are obviously so ill-informed on! Or at the very least don’t ask for people’s opinions if you’re not in the least interested in them!


Please be aware of the information you promote from groups like Greenpeace, Greenpeace agrees that a canned tuna industry that is 100% line and pole is not practical. The MSC can’t answer, when questioned about the sustainability of the bait fishery for Pole and Line or the impact on other species. Yet it has certified Pole and Line tuna fishing as sustainable.  The quoted by-catch figures and claims made by Greenpeace about the by-catch and interactions of other species are grossly exaggerated and are unable to be verified. Currently the major interaction with the canned tuna fishery to Australian anglers is the Pole and Line fishery, these are not opinions these are facts!

Greenpeace needs donations to keep operating, $700,000 a day. Don’t be responsible for helping them by promoting this shit! Anglers need to be informed by facts not by emotive crap!

Supplementary information

While Greenpeace are so against FAD fishing, it was in fact Greenpeace International and Greenpeace Foundation that designed and introduced FAD’s to the tuna fishery, during their dolphin safe campaign in 1982.

Note this has now been removed from the web pag.

Skipjack Tuna are the species used for the canned tuna market, they are a prolific tuna, reaching sexual maturity within a year. They breed rapidly, one female tuna creating 80,000 to 2 million eggs per year until they die at about 5 years old maximum age is 8 - 12 years. Skip Jack tuna have a very healthy stock status and are an ideal species to harvest as a cheap source of protein source for us humans, in fact in some countries it’s the primary source of protein for people that cannot afford anything else. Purse Seine tuna fishing makes up 63% of the canned tuna market and even with the real by-catch figures, it has very low environmental impacts when compared to other protein sources both marine and terrestrial, Pole and line tuna fishing makes up less than 10% of the canned tuna market, Longline 14%, and other 13%.

Annually Australian tuna companies are sent a survey by Greenpeace and asked to answer a number of questions. Greenpeace uses these answers to rank tuna brands. One of the questions.

What fishing methods are used? ( what about line and pole)

this is the answer from John West

Currently the pole and line fishing method represents only 10% of the world’s total tuna catch. Pole and line fishing depends on the availability of baitfish, which is released live into the sea to attract tuna schools. John West launched a range of pole and line caught tuna earlier this year.

A key concern for expanding pole and line fisheries to replace purse seine catches is the requirement of large amounts of bait to be harvested. This has sustainability implications which we believe need to be further researched

It’s also worth noting that Greenpeace Australia changed there “sustainable canned tuna guide” after some if its inconstancies were boldly pointed out. For a company to gain a high ranking it had to actively support marine sanctuaries that ban recreational fishing, at the time the company ranked second only provided canned Yellow fin tuna, the high ranking company on this Greenpeace guide claimed to support marine parks, but was also listed as a supporter on an industry group opposing marine parks. John West the company that was the target of this Greenpeace campaign was and I think still is the only company to have signed an agreement with WWF to work with them to ensure sustainability.  

1 comment:

  1. What an insightful read, that presents some very interesting information not commonly available from the usual outlets. I am glad you are on our side.