On December 7, 2016, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution (L.27 (A/71/L.27)). The resolution officially recognized May 2 as World Tuna Day. The Republic of Nauru proposed the resolution, and it was co-sponsored by about 96 countries and actively supported by the Pacific Small Island Developing States PSIDS. About 80 countries in the world have access to tuna fisheries. Thousands of tuna fishing vessels operate in the Pacific and Indian oceans fishing millions of tons of tuna every year. Several countries also depend on tuna for food security, nutritional value, employment, revenue, livelihood, and cultural purposes. The resolution was also meant to emphasize the importance of managing a sustainable stock of tuna for sustainable development.
The Declining Fish Stock
Although it is referred to as World Tuna Day, the day is meant to celebrate the importance of fish. The resolution was introduced at a time when nearly all species of fish are under threat from human activities. The global demand for fish has been on a constant rise and is set to hit 50 million tones by 2025. Despite fishing regulations in several countries and the International Angling Rules, the overfishing and fish poaching is still a major problem. The number of fish and marine vertebrates have halved since the 1970s, and by 2050 there will be more plastics than fish in the world's oceans. It is a humanitarian issue with profound implications for food security considering that the world’s population is set to bit the 9 billion mark by 2050. The World Wildlife Fund ( WWF) reports that marine population in the Pacific has declined by 49% over the course of a single generation due to destructive fishing practices.
People living in the Pacific islands are on the frontline of the battle against the effects of climate change. The islanders derive 50- 90% of their protein from fish, and for millions more, fish is their only source of income. In the next 15 years, the Pacific islands would require an extra 115,000 tons of fish to satisfy consumer demand. A majority of fish consumed and exported is tuna.
Poaching and Overfishing
Fish poaching is also a major threat; recent reports disclose that large international fish poaching put immense pressure on the local fish population. Africa suffers the greatest due to the inability to police its borders. The east and southern coast of Africa is known to be a haven for Asian fish poachers. In 2013, a survey revealed that only 1 in 130 fishing vessels in the Mozambique territory belongs to Mozambique. The government of Mozambique was estimated to be losing approximately $65-million annually while the continent loses $23-billion. In 2015, several Chinese fishing boats were found to have broken the international fishing laws when they entered into state territories in West Africa and left with thousands of tons of fish. Several countries have also blamed the Chinese navy for offering assistance to Chinese fish poachers. In August 2016, the Sea Shepherd, one of the organizations known to protect whales from fishing vessels, declared that it could no longer operate because of the interference of the Japanese navy in its activities.