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Fiji Time: 7:37 AM on Friday 1 August

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Fishing industry takes stock to protect albacore

Mary Rauto
Wednesday, June 29, 2011

MEASURES are being taken to protect Fiji's albacore fishery.

The Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association has put the albacore forward for full assessment for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification

Association president Grahame Southwick said they felt it was important to fulfil the necessary criteria for certification.

"The certification is specifically applicable to the Fiji domestic albacore fishery," he said.

"That is albacore caught by Fiji owned vessels which operate in Fiji waters and operate under the strict controls and limitations set by the Fiji Government Fisheries Ministry.

"These include limitations on the number of vessels allowed to fish, the area they can fish, vessel size and capacity, all criteria aimed at ensuring stability of this resource."

It was earlier revealed that at least 40,000 tonnes per annum of albacore are landed and processed through Suva and Levuka.

Mr Southwick said albacore represented approximately 50 per cent or the total Fiji catch.

"It has been specifically targeted for MSC certification as it is the last of the commercial tunas that are in a reasonably healthy state at this time, unlike all the others that are over fished severely," he said.

"MSC is being granted in recognition of the fact that we are taking some serious measures to protect this particular fishery,

"When granted, it will signal to the buying world, that we are serious about our stock conservation and are nurturing this fishery and that it is being responsibly harvested."

Mr Southwick said as a result this would trigger a buyer response of support.

"These days many large supermarket chains are putting the fishing industry on notice that they will only trade and deal with MSC certified fish," he said.

"This is therefore Fiji's opportunity to take a good position in the market place as responsible harvesters of fish."


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