Offshore Fisheries | WWF

	© Sione Fukofuka / SPC
Oceanic fisheries in the West and Central Pacific account for 54% of the world’s tuna catch, with 2.2 million tonnes caught per year.
The Offshore Fisheries programme at WWF Pacific is an advocacy, awareness, research and policy input initiative that has been working with our network of WWF offices globally and partners to improve the health and management of tuna fisheries in the Pacific Islands region.

Due to the highly migratory nature of tuna in the Pacific, to effectively safeguard their populations from overfishing across their extensive range a highly collaborative approach between Pacific nations, territories and distant water fishing nations (DWFNs) is essential.

As such, the programme focuses on lobbying, advocacy and partnership with regional, national and international organisations to promote responsible tuna fishing practices across large swathes of the Pacific. We focus on three main issues: 

Advocacy and Awareness

A large part of Offshore Fisheries' work is advocating changes to national, regional and international legislation to effectively change the way the fishing industry operates. We also operate to improve awareness, Pacific fisheries are often unaware of the growing demand in Europe and North America for sustainably caught fish with certification, and on  the other hand Pacific Islanders often have low awareness of the problems associated with offshore fisheries and how they affect their country environmentally, politically and economically. 

Fisheries Certification

Although the Pacific Ocean is considered to be the last frontier of healthy tuna stocks, it is now facing increased pressure due to the decline of Atlantic and Mediterranean tuna populations and increasing demand from the world burgeoning population. We work to pro-actively promote sustainable tuna fisheries management to protect Pacific stocks from the same outcome.

Tuna Bycatch

Tuna fisheries also catch a number of non-target species, known as bycatch. Bycatch of highly endangered maarinae turtle and shark species as well as that of juvenile tuna is common in the South Pacific. WWF Pacifc works to reduce bycatch by changing fishing practices. 


Sustainable Fisheries

  • Promoting fishery certification, namely Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), to ensure that wild fisheries are implementing high standards of management.
  • Raising consumer awareness of oceanic fishery conservation issues and promoting sustainable sourcing by major purchasers.
  • Securing commitments from major retailers to sustainably source their seafood.

WCPFC Advocacy

WWF was given the responsibility by the Oceanic Fisheries Management Programme and the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) to carry out awareness and advocacy on the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Comission and tuna fisheries issues in the Pacific Islands region by:
  • Increasing the number of environmental NGOs who include oceanic fisheries in their mandate and participate in oceanic fisheries management processes.
  • Engaging civil society organisations and environmental NGOs with oceanic fisheries management issues.
  • Raising awareness of the link between developmental and economic priorities and sustainable fisheries management.

Bycatch Reduction

The bycatch project aims to support the implementation of fishing best practices to reduce bycatch in Fiji's long line and purse seine tuna fishing industries through the cultivation of strategic working partnerships with the fishing industry and policy advocacy and engagement on bycatch mitigation with the Fiji Department of Fisheries.

The focal bycatch species are juvenilie bigeye and yellowfin tunas in purse seine fishing, as well as turtles and sharks in longline fishing.

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPF Commission)

Established in 2004 following a six-year negotiation of the WCPF Convention.

WCPF Convention is an international fisheries agreement that seeks to ensure through effective management the long-term conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish stocks (i.e. tunas, billfish, marlin) in the western and central Pacific Ocean.

WCPF Comission’s members provided 54% of the world’s tuna catch in 2007.

The area covered by the Convention covers almost 20 per cent of the Earth’s surface.

There are currently 32 member nations and terrotiories, located in the Pacific Islands as well as distant water fishing nations (DWFNs).

Over half of WCPF Commission members are also members of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), a regional voting bloc comprised of Pacific members.