Daily Video

July 29, 2014

To protect oceans, island nation of Kiribati bans commercial fishing


kiribati flag

Flag of the Nation of Kiribati

The president of the tiny Pacific island nation of Kiribati announced a ban on commercial fishing in the waters surrounding his country in order to protect the marine life.

Key Vocabulary

Food security – The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”. Commonly, the concept of food security is defined as including both physical and economic access to food that meets people’s dietary needs as well as their food preferences. Source: The World Health Organization (WHO)

Pelagic fish – fish that inhabit the water column (not near the bottom or the shore) of coasts, open oceans, and lakes. They can be categorized as coastal and oceanic fish, based on the depth of the water they inhabit. Coastal pelagic fish inhabit sunlit waters up to about 655 feet deep, typically above the continental shelf. Examples of species include forage fish such as anchovies, sardines, shad, and menhaden and the predatory fish that feed on them. Oceanic pelagic fish typically inhabit waters below the continental shelf. Examples include larger fish such as swordfish, tuna, mackerel, and even sharks. Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

precedent – an earlier event or action that is regarded as an example or guide to problems in the future.

Key Places

kiribati map

Informational Text

President Anote Tong of Kiribati, a small island country in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, announced he would be banning commercial fishing in an area called the Phoenix Islands Protected Area. This ocean area, owned by Kiribati, is over 150,000 square miles, approximately the size of California.

President Tong made the announcement at the world’s first oceans conference, where scientists and political leaders from around the globe talked about ocean threats including pollution, climate change and overfishing.

The commercial fishing ban is expected to take place on January 1, 2015 to protect depleted species, especially tuna.

“The tuna that come from the Central Pacific are one of the last remaining relatively healthy stocks of this lucrative, crucial fish,” explained PBS NewsHour reporter William Brangham.

Tuna are a ‘pelagic’ species, which means they migrate long distances in their lifetime. This means tuna would be protected only when they are inside the Phoenix Islands Protected Area. But President Anote Tong says he hopes it will spur more action.

“But at least somewhere…we’ll know that they will be able to find refuge…And hopefully by doing this, other neighboring countries will do the same and so on,” Tong said.

President Tong added that it’s important to act for change and not simply talk about change.

“Many Americans eat tuna, either sashimi or canned, but what we see on the table, what we see around our daily lives, we don’t always associate it with something else beyond. But the reality is that this has to come from somewhere. And at the moment the most viable tuna fishing grounds that remain viable are those in the Western and Central Pacific, in our waters. And so leadership has got to be taken,” Tong said.

Warm up questions
  1. Which species of fish do you think are the most popular to eat? How do you know?
  2. Are sea levels rising or falling? What are you basing your answer on?
  3. In your own words, what is the definition of climate change? How worried about it are you?
Discussion questions
  1. Were the water bottles in the opening shot of the “Our Ocean” meeting glass or plastic? Why might that be?
  2. Why is the health and population of the world’s fish important to the overall environment? Who would be affected most if the fish population was eliminated?
  3. How might President Anote Tong make sure that his efforts to protect the Phoenix Islands Protected Area are collaborative with other countries instead of totally independent? What are some risks and benefits to working collaboratively?
  4. If sea levels keep rising, Kiribati might be completely submerged one day. President Tong said that there was no legal precedent on how to handle this problem. If you were in his place, what might you do?
  5. What leadership characteristics do you see in President Tong? Do you think he is an effective leader? Explain your answer.
Writing prompt

The world’s fish population is in real danger. The documentary “End of the Line” explores the complex problem and you can preview the trailer here http://youtu.be/QWB8KJ1aIJ4. Evidence suggests that if we continue our current fishing practices, we may completely destroy the ecology of our oceans. Imagine that you are speaking at the “Our Ocean” summit. What arguments would you make to convince your audience that, as a global population, the time to act is now. Make sure to support your arguments with evidence from the text and or video.

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