FISHING nations of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) have agreed to protect oceanic whitetip sharks which have been red-flagged on the endangered species list.
This was decided in its meeting which ended in Guam at the weekend after a proposal from the US.
"We are pleased that the WCPFC has heeded scientific advice and taken action to conserve seriously overfished oceanic whitetip sharks," said Sonja Fordham, president of Shark Advocates International. "This decision the first species-specific shark protection adopted by this body should be complemented by additional conservation measures for the region's other vulnerable and overfished shark species in the near future."
Australia's proposal to ban intentional setting of purse seine nets on whale sharks (to catch associated aggregations of tuna) was stalled by Japan. The issue will be further discussed at the next WCPFC meeting, which Fiji is a part of.
The WCPFC agreed to prohibit retention, transshipment, storage, and landing of this species.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace will lobby governments to ban the setting of tuna purse seine fishing nets on whales and whale sharks.
It said supermarkets worldwide continue to stock tuna caught using fishing methods which kill whales.
"It's astounding that fishing fleets continued to use whales and whale sharks as live lures to catch tuna," said Greenpeace Australia Pacific Oceans campaign team leader Lagi Toribau. "Tuna gather under whales and whale sharks for shelter, so vessels are setting their vast nets around them and simply scooping the whole lot up. Most of these beautiful creatures are dead when they get tossed back into the ocean."