IUCN welcomes the decision by Western Pacific island nations to close an area three times the size of California to fishing activity, effectively creating the world's largest no-take zone. The decision was reached in order to protect one of the world's last great tuna stocks. The fishing effort in the economic exclusion zones (EEZs) around the islands, mainly carried out by foreign fleets that pay the island states for the right to fish, will continue at a unsustainable rate, however, according to IUCN.
“It’s a great leap forward, for sure,” says Kelvin Passfield of the Pacific Ocean Fisheries Programme of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. “But I’m afraid it’s not going to be enough. If you don’t cut 30% of the take when you need to, it usually means you’ll have to cut 50% later.”
Two high seas pockets will be closed to fishing on January 1, 2010 and the fate of two more will be decided at the next meeting of Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in December 2009.