The 2018 World Tuna Forum in Bangkok / by Francisco Blaha

As every two years in May, I get asked to be a speaker at the World Tuna Forum in Bangkok. Is the biggest event of its kind in the Tuna and a total talkfest. As usual, I’m invited to talk about the developments in fisheries controls we are doing in the Pacific, and this year I focus on the findings and recommendations of my recent FAO publication “Seafood traceability for fisheries compliance: Country-level support for catch documentation schemes”.


I'm always ambivalent about my presence here. If I was to get 1$ for every time I heard the word sustainability, I’ll be coming back home a wealthy man, yet if I was to get 1000$ for every time I was to hear a firm commitment to effort and fleet reduction, I’ll still be coming home with empty pockets

Almost everyone talks about commitments to sustainability, fight the “scourge” of UU and the whole lot. However, at the same time, DWFN keep adding capacity, finding gaps in the system, employing people from desperate backgrounds and nations to pay them less every year (or not paying them at all), while milking to the maximum their countries subsidies cow.

On the other hand, here is where my message could have the best impact. If you not seated at the table, you become dinner. So I learn to accept that these are the rules of the game, and here is a description of the players and here is the forum’s programme.

I have to admit that I appreciate INFOFISH invitations to be a speaker at all their Tuna events, yet I established years ago that I would not accept their invitation if the number of female colleagues as speakers the same (or less) that the prior edition. And I’m glad to see the number of female speakers increasing in every edition,

As always my message is technical, I'm very forward with the disparity in between what I hear in this meetings and what I see in the ports. Pacific Island Developing States have, in my opinion, invested proportionately much more than the DWFN in MCS and Fisheries Information Management Systems. Particularly in comparison with the nations with the highest numbers of fishing vessels in the region, such as China, Taiwan and Korea. These nations have virtually not supported any Authorities strengthening programmes, nor seem to put much effort into their obligations to control they own vessels IUU fishing, as specified by various international treaties… their flag performance is abysmal.

A CDS could deal efficiently with the issues of legality, fish accountancy and provenance, and with that, many issues in the tuna world would be way more transparent. But the excuses to not implement it abound and many point to cost, as one of the biggest…. Yet, the volumes of subsidies are sickening. So the reality is that the main reason is the lack of political will… and that is my final message having the chance to be in front of the people that drive that will.

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