FIJI can only support about 50 vessels in the fisheries sector, the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association said.
That has been the association's position for the past 15 years, says association member Grahame Southwick.
That advice, Mr Southwick said, had however been largely ignored over the years "as greed and corruption have played their part".
"Against all our observations and data indicating that Fiji can only support about 50 boats, the Fisheries Department at times issued or approved the issue of up to 103 licences. And the only time that the actually numbers fell below that was in 2008 when the fishery collapsed due to excessive licences in the previous years," he said.
Sixty-six vessels now operate in Fiji waters.
Fisheries director Sanaila Naqali said they had issued more licences because of the absence of scientific advice to support any claims of overfishing.
He said research on the matter had not concluded as tuna was migratory and in the absence of funding, there was a delay in the study for better tuna management plans. In the meantime, the authorities would exercise precautionary powers over the matter, Mr Naqali said.
Mr Southwick however said the writing was on the wall for "those who had eyes to see", and when the industry finally collapsed", only 48 boats applied for the available 60 licences.
Mr Southwick said the FTBOA begged the Fisheries Department to hold the number at 50 to try and give survivors a chance to recover and let fish stock to be replenished.
He said the Fisheries Department, "in a flash of insanity actually raised the limit from 60 to 70 in 2011".
He said the fisheries authority had accepted an independent review of the Fiji tuna industry by the Forum Fisheries Agency and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and agreed to abide by the findings, which gives hope that the Fisheries Department now seems to be supportive, he said.