FIJIAN operators are uncertain whether a recent proposal by the Forum Fisheries Agency to reduce Southern Pacific Albacore Tuna fishing by 40 per cent will actually happen. Pacific fishing countries want the reduction in order to maintain Albacore stocks at 45 per cent of pre-fishing levels.
This is what scientists generally agree is the required level to keep the species sustainable. At the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission 12th Regular session in Bali, FFA members made the proposal which has been rejected in the past by the United States, Japan and China. In order to keep Albacore sustainable, scientists say, there is no option but to reduce fishing by a massive 45 per cent.
Local businesses claim the multi-billion dollar industry is ailing due to overfishing and declining stocks, in turn threatening local businesses and their dependents – the employees. The FFA members’ proposal comes on the back of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s latest assessment of the South Pacific Albacore stock.
These findings were labelled as ‘not new’ by Fiji’s struggling tuna processing industry. General Manager of SOLANDER Pacific Ltd, Radhika Kumar, said the FFA’s demands were what Fiji’s domestic tuna industry had been saying for years.