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Fiji Time: 1:42 AM on Tuesday 2 September

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Tuna stock drop tremendously

Frederica Elbourne
Wednesday, January 02, 2013

TUNA stock for the four main species has fallen to historically low levels, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community said.

SPC Fisheries boss Mike Batty said many Pacific Island countries relied on tuna fisheries for employment, food security and income.

"Continuing the increase in fishing effort will have a negative impact on these countries," he said at the annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in Manila last week.

The secretariat said in a statement the viability of the Western Central Pacific tuna fishery was at risk from a failure to reach decisions on management because of competing political and economic goals.

Recent analyses by the Secretariat of Pacific Community (SPC) fisheries scientists show that over fishing of bigeye tuna was already a problem, while the albacore tuna catch has risen rapidly to levels that threaten the profitability of Pacific Island fisheries, the secretariat said.

"The Western and Central Pacific tuna fishery is the world's biggest tuna fishery, with total catches worth $5.5 billion in 2011," the secretariat said.

Mr Batty said management decisions were reached through a consensus-based system which was fraught with competing interests and values.

"Such a system leads to gridlock and watered-down decisions that favour short-term economic interests at the expense of long-term productivity and sustainability," he pointed out.

The two-day management workshop was expected to identify desirable levels of tuna stocks and drive sustainable management decisions.

Mr Batty said the long-term objectives for the Pacific tuna fisheries needed to be based on economic outcomes such as revenue, employment and stable sources of fish for processing as well as environmental outcomes like sustainability of fish stocks and reducing the by-catch and interaction with species such as sharks and turtles.

"These objectives will help us to identify desirable levels of tuna stocks and to drive sustainable management decisions," he said.


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