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Fiji chases tuna across the Pacific

FIJIAN diplomats are making good progress on negotiations with Tuvalu and Kiribati for access to valuable fishing grounds in the Northern Pacific. A proposed three-phase plan includes a Fiji-based-and-owned long line fleet to boost supply to Fijian canneries and create employment at home and throughout the region.

Fisheries Minister, Commander Semi Koroilavesau, confirmed he had held discussions with senior officials in Kiribati, Tuvalu and Wallis and Futuna.

“We want to follow the tuna on its migratory route for six months of the year,” Koroilavesau told Islands Business. “To do that Fiji will need access to the north – through Wallis, up to Tuvalu and Kiribati and we’ll also need access to the west near the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.” Koroilavesau has laid the groundwork through his personal contacts with senior fisheries officials in Tuvalu and Kiribati. But it will be for foreign affairs officials from the three countries to put together agreements acceptable to their political masters.

It is understood that the Solomon Islands has been reluctant to allow access to Fiji-flagged long liners as it wants to protect supply to its cannery at Noro on New Georgia.

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