Presidential IUU Task Force requested public comment on what species are "at risk" in IUU fishing
17 May 2015
Species “at risk”: Albacore Tuna
To: President Obama; the presidential IUU task force; & whom it may concern,
I strongly suggest that you put Albacore Tuna at the top of your list of “at risk” species. Shortly after a Chinese IUU driftnet vessel was apprehended last May, 2014, you, the president, formed the Presidential IUU task force to eliminate illegal fishing and seafood fraud. It would be only fitting that this task force make IUU driftnet fishing witch target Albacore Tuna, a high priority. This particular “at risk” species is a perfect example of how power and money disregard & topple the scales of justice. Corruption runs deep regarding Albacore Tuna, from the American Fishermen’s Research Foundation (AFRF) – to the 3 major US tuna brands, Starkist, Chicken of the Sea, & Bumblebee tuna- to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) - to the top US officials of the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), and even to you Mr. President Obama. IUU driftnet vessels have been allowed to fish in direct competition with US sustainable troll fishermen, under the radar, and sell their catch into the U.S. , undetected, for decades.
I am one of many “off-shore” (high seas) Albacore Tuna Trollers (STAKEHOLDER). Our method of fishing is sustainable, deemed by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Our primary fishing grounds was centered at the Emperor Seamount (42:00N x 173:00E), and ran east towards the west coast.
Our rights to “Freedom of the Sea” have been violated by the IUU driftnet fishing fleet targeting Albacore Tuna, as no one fishery, or state, can exploit or deplete another fishery, or state.I also state that, as a US citizen, I feel I am denied rights pertaining to the “Law of the Sea” because you, President Obama, do not sign The “Law of the Sea”, as you promised.
The Law of The Sea, Article 87, Freedom of the High Seas.
1. The high seas are open to all States, whether coastal or land-locked. Freedom of the high seas is exercised under the conditions laid down by this Convention and by other rules of international law. It comprises, inter alia, both for coastal and land-locked States:
(e) Freedom of fishing, subject to the conditions laid down in section 2;
2. These freedoms shall be exercised by all States with due regard for the interests of other States in their exercise of the freedom of the high seas, and also with due regard for the rights under this Convention with respect to activities in the Area.
The Law of the Sea, Article 119, Conservation of the living resources of the high seas:
Part 3) “States concerned shall ensure that conservation measures and their implementation do not discriminate in form or in fact against the fishermen of any State”.
CODE of CONDUCT for Responsible Fisheries
Article 6- General Principles 6.6 Selective and environmentally safe fishing gear and practices should be further developed and applied, to the extent practical, in order to maintain biodiversity and to conserve the population structure and aquatic ecosystems and protect fish quality. Where proper selective and environmentally safe fishing gear and practices exist, they should be recognized and accorded a priority in establishing conservation and management measures for fisheries. States and users of aquatic ecosystems should minimize waste, catch of non-target species, both fish and non-fish species, and impacts on associated or dependent species.
From 2001- 2006US High Seas Albacore Tuna Trollers reported driftnet vessel sightings more and more until the Sustainable Tuna Trollers could no longer survive.
In 2006- the last report made by the High Seas Albacore Troll Fleet to the USCG led to a record high of 98 IUU driftnet sightings with0 convictions. Most IUU vessels were presumed from China.
Being that the US State Department is fully aware that there was viable and sustainable US fishery in place would only mean genocide, or pre meditated murder to our own fishery.
Other violations of the WCPFC include:
CMM 2005-03: non- compliance by China. China did not submit catch data for Albacore Tuna to the commission.
•Albacore stock assessment: from ISC. came out positive, when our US High Seas Albacore catches have been declining, and without sufficient catch data given by China.
•CMM 2006-06 VMS is exempt in Northwest quadrant. This area is notorious for IUU drift net activity. This was later decided to end at the end of 2013. It is now 2015 & this “High Profile” area witch 99% of IUU driftnet sightings are made is still exempt from VMS.
•Inquiry about IUU freezer ship "Lung Yuin" delivering Albacore to US canneries from Taiwan. Reported by Greenpeace in Jan. 2011. This vessel was out of compliance.
For the last 10 years, all the Sustainable Albacore Tuna Trollers have to go by, as proof, is our pictures of driftnet scratched Albacore caught off the West Coast, our reports made in our log books, and the decline of tuna fish stocks. This past North Pacific season, 2014 averaged 20-30% driftnet scratched albacore caught by Trolling. For further details, please go to:
Recommendations to the Presidential Task force regarding “at risk” Albacore Tuna:
- Records show China as a repeat offender in IUU driftnet fishing for the past 10 years. Put China on the list of countries observed as IUU fishing. Just because the State department wants to show leniency towards China, or that China owns the US are no exeptions!!! Albacore Tuna caught from China should not be allowed to enter into the US!
- Thailand is now considered #3 sanctioned country. No Albacore Tuna, coming from Thailand, should be allowed into the US.
- The 3 major US brands, Starkist, Chicken of the Sea & Bumblebee Tuna, now owned by Thai-Union & a Korean company, should not be allowed to sell Albacore Tuna in the US. Clear all shelves effective immediately! These cans have no traceability & come from unreliable sources. All American caught Albacore come in cans marked with the MSC label, or marked as Pole & Troll caught & sustainable. Any albacore tuna sold without traceability supports IUU fishing & undermines sustainably caught fish. This will be a good start to partner up with our EU friends that follow such guidelines!
- President Obama, please sign the “Law of the SEA” and give us U.S. high seas fishermen our “Freedom of the Sea”! Replace the Coast Guard with the Navy for enforcement as do other countries.
- Tell Northern Committee of the WCPFC to make mandatory VMS on the NW quadrant as intended 15 years ago. Effective immediately!!
- Have the “Task Force” put a team together to monitor all satellite imagery across the Pacific, but specifically in the NW quadrant where IUU driftnets are sighted. Gather information from Google Ocean, Military, ect. to find vessels without VMS, or otherwise unlisted & unregistered. Track such vessels till they go to port, or transship to other vessels. Have these vessels arrested ASAP!!
- Any IUU driftnet vessel caught should receive 1 million dollar fine to the owner & the ship to be scuttled.
In conclusion: If you are as determined to stop IUU fishing as you say you are, you will do these things and more.
I have been violated, but most importantly, the Ocean has been violated. I’m talking about the whales, dolphin, turtles, sharks, swordfish, tuna, salmon, squid, etc. that die and go unreported by IUU driftnet fishing. The Ocean life cannot speak for itself. The situation is much worse than you expect. There is no time for delay. To imagine another year gone by before this task force even acts indicates you are just another smoke screen to delay the inevitable.
All it takes is one good man to do nothing, for evil to prevail… Act NOW!
We are all accountable for what we know.
If I was a rape victim & reported the crime, would I get help to catch the rapist? Why is this any different? Where is my help? Who will defend me?
Sincerely, Captain John Harder
Owner/operator of F/V OCEAN JOY US doc# 554321
Captain John Harder