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Tuna drawback for Fiji

Dawn Gibson
Saturday, January 18, 2014

ABOUT 8000 people are expected to be affected by the recent shutdown of Fiji Fish Marketing Group's tuna fishing arm.

This was claimed yesterday by managing director Grahame Southwick, who said the value of Fiji's tuna industry was nil.

"One of our number one problems is that a lot of people didn't believe we had a problem. Now we have thousands of people out of work, markets lost and Fiji off the tuna table," Mr Southwick said in an interview yesterday.

"There are essentially, probably 1200 people laid off from the main companies that are directly involved in fishing."

He said studies showed that for every single fisherman, there were eight people employed on the side.

"We're talking about repair and maintenance people, fuel suppliers, dockyard people, airline people — all the people that surround the industry and make a living will be affected.

"If you add that all up, you're talking about 8000 people affected. And besides that, Fiji has now lost all its markets — all the years of work put into marketing are all gone."

He said the possibility of boasting a Fijian voice at global tuna forums was hopeless.

"If Fiji went to a tuna conference now, they'll say 'who the hell is Fiji'?

"Processing plants are now empty, nobody is working and so many people are now out of work. It's a sorry state but what's the answer? I don't think there is one."

He said at the Fiji Fish factory, that once employed about 200 people, about 50 would keep their jobs.

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