WITH the threat of large fleets from countries such as China fishing in the high seas, the tuna fishing industry in the Pacific could begin to dwindle.
This was just one of the concerns of Amsterdam-based Greenpeace International oceans campaigner Sari Tolvanen, who visited Fiji last week en route to the Tuna Forum in the Solomon Islands, which began on Monday.
Ms Tolvanen, originally from Finland, has been in the oceans business with Greenpeace for 10 years.
She has a special place for the Pacific islands, particularly those which suffer the direct impacts of overfishing in the high seas.
"Tuna are highly migratory and so they move across the entire Pacific Ocean, which is why you really can't have local management," Ms Tolvanen explained.
"Even if Fiji or one of the other islands was doing all they can to manage tuna well, if it's still being overfished in the high seas or in another country, it is still affecting the entire stock, so that's why it's such a regional issue."
She said prior to 2008, Fiji showed healthy stocks of albacore, but they had since been threatened.
She went on to say that this resulted in local boats not being able to compete with larger ones which trolled the high seas.
"More ships have been entering that area, especially from China and they're subsidising a lot of new vessels that are fishing in the high seas and it's now starting to impact the local fisheries.
"It's becoming harder to catch the fish, so you spend more money getting it, so local fleets can't really compete with the high seas fleets that are being subsidised — that's the big issue developing here."
Ms Tolvanen said this would be one of her main agendas — the development of legislation to protect tuna and other fish in the high seas — when at the Tuna Forum in the Solomon Islands.