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Fiji Time: 8:57 AM on Monday 21 April

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Harvest limit wishful thinking: Southwick

Frederica Elbourne
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

THE annual tuna harvest quota set by Fiji for fish caught within its Exclusive Economic Zone is extremely dangerous and wishful thinking, the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association said.

And the move to raise the annual tuna quota caught in Fiji's EEZ from 10,000 tonnes to 15,000 tonnes supported evidence pointing to the existing practice of overfishing, association member Grahame Southwick said.

"The Fiji EEZ has never produced more than 10,000 tonnes of tuna within its EEZ even when it had a virgin, resident stock and foolishly approved 103 licensed boats fishing.

"So the limit of 15,000 tonnes is wishful thinking," Mr Southwick said.

"It never has, nor ever will be produced within the Fiji EEZ. It was not produced with 40 boats, 60, 80 and 103," he said.

"We only ever caught 10,000 and as each additional boat was licensed, the individual boat catches fell.

"The fact is that if you put 500 boats in, they would still only take 10,000 it's all we have available within the EEZ," he added.

Mr Southwick's comments follow that of the Fiji Offshore Fisheries Association's over the annual harvest of tuna within the EEZ.

Another round of consultation between stakeholders of the fisheries over the Fiji Tuna Management Development Plan is scheduled for May.