Saving our Tuna: UNDP and Discovery Channel in Asia offer an inside look at technology to save a way of life in the Pacific

Jun 6, 2014

More than 4.5 million tons of tuna are caught each year as part of a $5 billion industry that is an economic lifeline for Pacific island countries. But for how much longer?

Saving our Tuna, a new half-hour documentary to be broadcast across Asia in June for World Oceans Day, takes you to the richest fishing grounds on the planet, where fleets of fishing vessels equipped with sonar, and sophisticated satellite tracking devices are catching millions of tons of tuna, making it the third most harvested fish in the ocean.

The race is on to see if technology can also help save a commodity that is a way of life for so many. Harvest rates have been increasing dramatically over the last decade, placing pressure on a resource that is vital as a food source and an important means of livelihood.

Produced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Arrowhead Films for Discovery Channel in Asia, the movie takes an inside look at tuna technology – how it is used to catch, and perhaps even help save the tuna industry and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Pacific islanders.

The race is on to save our tuna. “If we lose our tuna, we lose our entire way of life,” says Adrian Wickham, General Manager of Tri Marine’s National Fisheries Development in the Solomon Islands.

The movie reveals cutting edge air and sea monitoring operations to enforce fishing limit compliance. It brings viewers into the cockpit of the same P3 Orion aircraft as it flies over vast tracks of ocean to crack down on illegal fishing.

Technology is but one part of the tuna picture. UNDP and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) continue to make significant investments to improve fisheries management.

“Overfishing is just one of several challenges to long-term sustainability of the global ocean,” says Andrew Hudson, UNDP’s Oceans Management expert. “Other threats include pollution, invasive aquatic species, habitat loss, and ocean acidification due to the build up of fossil fuel carbon dioxide in the oceans. UNDP is working on each of these issues at multiple levels with many partners as part of a global effort to restore and protect ocean resources,” he says.

 “Perhaps nowhere else on earth are fisheries more important to the food security and livelihoods of a region than in the Pacific Islands. For over 15 years, UNDP has been supporting efforts by the 14 Pacific Island countries to sustainably manage these resources vital to the social and economic development of the island communities”, says Haoliang Xu, UNDP Director for Asia and the Pacific. It will be broadcast on Discovery Channel across Asia and the Pacific from June 8.

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