Colombia joined Japan, the United States, Spain, France, and 11 other nations last month endorsing a landmark treaty to protect tuna along the entire Eastern Pacific Ocean.
The agreement bans tuna fishing by all nations for approximately two months each year to help shore up the world’s tuna stocks.
It anchors a series of measures introduced by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) to avoid the catastrophic collapse of valuable stocks of yellowfin, bigeye and skipjack tuna.
Colombia was the last of the 16 nations that make up the IATTC to endorse the measures proposed at the meeting of the Commission in June. The group is made up of 10 Latin American nations and USA, Japan, Spain, South Korea, France and Vanuatu.
Studies carried out by the IATTC showed a rapid deterioration of tuna populations here – particularly bigeye – with stocks seriously depleted.
A statement from Conservation International said: “This agreement is a major step toward the creation of sustainable tuna fisheries in the pacific. Thousands of Colombians rely on this industry, and this plan shows foresight which should ensure Colombian tuna has a future. It also sends a message to the world that Colombia can be a sound trading partner.”
In 2007, Colombia exported over 61 million dollars worth of tuna – 37% of its total fish exports – to the United States, Ecuador, Panama and Japan, among other countries.
“Now with the endorsement of the tuna conservation program, we need to urge the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to adopt conservation measures for the tuna stocks in that region, and in particular, the shared stocks of migratory tuna in the Pacific Ocean.”
The ban will see tuna fishing in the Eastern Pacific banned for 59 days in 2009, 62 days in 2010 and 73 days in 2011.