Ocean FAD Articles > Europian Tuna Conference

Europe was informed, & on top of it!
28 Apr 2009

 Ocean Friends Against Driftnets started receiving news letters from MFCN fishlink mfcn-fishlink@igc.topica.com threw John's e-mail.

   Report on European Tuna Conference held in Brussels was very good, according to John-boy. A solid report made by American Albacore Fishing Association (AAFA) was presented. They explained how stakeholders, coming from a certified sustainable fishery made up of fishing families from the US, are striving to promote themselves & their products. The presentation included pictures explaining the sustainable methods of "Pole & Troll" fishing for Tuna. It was well done & well received. 

   Another presentation was made by International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). This group was formed by the big tuna canners from the US Starkist, Bumblebee, & Chicken of the Sea, along with scientists, etc. This is the very organization we need to address. They went on to say how they were going to address Illegal, Unreported & Unidentified (IUU) fishing. I asked them what they intend to do about the driftnets in the North Pacific. They answered, "What driftnets? They have been gone since the UN ban on driftnets in 1992". I replied to please excuse me, but what about the 98 sightings made in 2006, with "0" convictions. Referring to the 2006 Report of the Secretary of Commerce. They had no reply. Later they made similar comments as the US state department that "China owns US." This contact was important to understanding this organization's view points. This is startling to know that ISSF dose not even acknowledge that Illegal(IUU) High Seas Driftnets even exist in the North Pacific. Such a shame. They know now! Actually coming from the very people that  buy this IUU fish & sell it to the public is expected from them. If ISSF was truly intending to support sustainable fishing, they would back us up whole heartedly, instead OceanFAD was avoided. We hope they will reconsider soon!

   Another report was from Seychelles Ministry of Fisheries. This is a small group of Islands in the Indian Ocean. They are in need of protection from IUU pirates coming into their waters and taking their fish. They were very receptive to OceanFAD's intentions. OceanFAD should make plans to keep in contact with Seychelles in the future. This would be a good place to establish a fishing school, & research vessel, etc. when funds allow.

   In conclusion to the stay in Brussels, OceanFAD observed the Seafood Expo event. Threw John, OceanFAD noticed and encouraged some of the certified sustainable organizations, such as Marine Stewardship Council(MSC). For if it was not for these groups, sustainable fishing methods would not stand a chance on the world market, or in the sea. Traceability from boat to consumer is essential in eliminating IUU fishing. John also passed out flyers to whoever might be interested in our cause to promote world wide Ban on driftnets.

   The outcome of this trip was great! Europe decided shortly after this meeting to only allow Certified Sustainable Seafood to be sold in their stores starting in 2010. This was a great step forward. Now if only the USA would do the same!


To:   atuna’s  2nd European Tuna Conference,    Brussels, Belgium

   From: John (john-boy) Harder, founder of Ocean Friends against Driftnets & Sustainabetuna.com Representing a group of 121 commercial tuna fishing vessels, holding Highly Migratory Species (HMS) permits, and other friends, demanding an immediate BAN on Illegal large-scale high seas driftnets.

   I thank you all dearly for having me at your conference. I hope you share my concern for our oceans & their tuna stocks, not excluding any other ocean species.

   Please permit me to tell some story. I am a tobacco smoker, about a pack a day. It used to be 2 packs a day, but I’m still working on it. I want to feel better & be healthy, but just can’t let smoking go. I know it’s killing me. I can start eating right, excersize more often, and loose wait, but I’ll always be unhealthy as long as I smoke! I see others that gave up smoking, & they look and feel great! Why can’t I?

   Illegal large-scale high seas driftnets, (IUU fishing), arekilling our tuna industry. It’s like the cancer caused from smoking. Are we addicted to driftnets? We can’t have a sustainable fishery unless we stop the fisheries that are not sustainable. I ask all top tuna industry canners, producers, & buyers that have information regarding driftnet IUU fishing, or are involved with high seas driftnet IUU fishing to come forward and submit records of landings for the past 7 years. Are you all identified & certified yet? This is where we need traceability. All tuna fishing vessels should be accounted for. There are around 100 IUU driftnet vessels in the North Pacific alone that are unaccounted for. They should be exposed, reformed and paying compensation to “EXISTING FISHERIES” like the high seas “troll” fishery, or Japan’s mighty “bait” fleet. We need total transparency! Why is Thailand not participating in the tuna commission? All cards should be on the table. Who wants to play cards with cheaters?

   I have taken up eating Jelly Belly (beans) candy to help curb my smoking. I carry a small tin full around wherever I go. They come in 49 different flavors and are quite nice. I broke out my tin to share with some children, one time, when they started grabbing the jelly beans by the handfuls. They were shoving them in their mouths & wanting more. I instantly realized that the kids in the back were not going to get any & I was going to run out. I cried out “STOP”, “Only one bean at a time”. “After you guess what flavor you have in your mouth and finish eating it, only then can you have another”. Soon we were all enjoying the wonderful favors of the candy & everyone got to participate & share. It was great!

     My point is without the proper guidance, enforcement, and total participation, all we have is chaos. All nations that follow the “Law of the Sea” & The United Nations, is your enforcers doing their job? There were 98 sightings of suspected high seas driftnets in the North Pacific in 2006 & 0 convictions. This must change! It’s like letting the fox guard the henhouse. What an outrage & shame.

The worst thought for me is that we allowed our nations & government to exploit our oceans in the most destructive manner known to man. We are using the ocean as a commodity, or an interest payment from one country to another. The ocean is sacred. This is a dishonorable deed.

   Everyone should know that the efficiency & the power of the driftnet are too strong for the oceans to handle. We learned this in 1992 when the United Nations set the moratorium on high seas driftnets. US congress made it policy to “Secure a permanent ban…in particular large-scale driftnets” (Large-scale driftnet fishing 1826 (C), (3). It’s been over 15 years now. They have failed.

   The US congress promised to protect “existing fisheries” too, along with the sea turtles, marine mammals, endangered species, etc. (1826 (D), (9)).  They failed again.

  Hook & line fisheries are, or can be, sustainable as the tuna stocks must be healthy for a profitable catch. Most of all, the fish has a choice to bite or not & does not feed all the time. I am sure there are many European hook and line fishermen affected by the driftnets. Please feel free to join us and speak out against driftnets. Our ocean’s vitality & future depends on it.

   Once the surplus of tuna coming from the IUU fisheries gets used up, fish prices should come back up to where they should be. My guess for albacore tuna would be over $3,000 per short ton. The price can only go up if the demand goes up with the population, and the supply goes down from the lack of excess IUU fish on the market. After the fish stocks start coming back and we can all learn to “Troll & pole”, or “hand-line” or “Long-line”. But no more nets please.

   All countries or “States” that have a BAN in place inside their EEZ, I commend you! I wish I could say the same. Please encourage other countries to do the same as we ALL must abide for the law to work properly. The countries thatallow driftnets should pay “best-catch year” compensation to the driftnet fisherman not to fish. This would give the fishermen finances to enter a “hook and line” fishery while waiting for the tuna stocks to replenish. It’s not the fishermen’s fault they were allowed to fish unsustainably. It’s hardly a viable fishery. There’s less & less fish.

   Finally, a most important point I would like to make, that people may not realize, is the two methods of fishing, “driftnets” & “pole & trolldo not mix. You can’t have both! After tuna have been introduced to the nets (caught, but got away), they don’t come to the surface anymore. The stocks are diminished drastically at a fast pace. If you allow driftnet fishing, you take away from the sustainable methods of fishing such as Pole, Troll & “Hook & Line”, making the tuna industry unsustainable.

   Thanks for taking the time to read my letter. I hope we can save this great fishery by doing the right thing. For more information, please visit our web site: www.oceanfad.org; or www.sustainabletuna.com

   Please feel free to contact me any time.          By e-mail: john-boy@sustainabletuna.com

                                                                                     By phone: 01 (831) 320-2805

   Good fishing season to all, John (John-boy) Harder





John Harder