THIS is the time to begin bettering fisheries management — before it becomes more than an economic problem.
This was the sentiment of panelist Bubba Cook at a public lecture earlier this week at USP's Marine Campus. Mr Cook, who represented the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on the panel, said it was a "luxury" that at present the tuna issue was an economic one and not a biological one, and that a combined regional effort was paramount.
"We're in a situation where we have issues with increased capacity in the region and we're figuring out ways to deal with that increased capacity and it basically boils down to political will," Mr Cook said.
"Fiji has shown that political will by reducing the licence numbers here in Fiji's waters. But reducing it by five or 10, while it's positive and it's great we also have to consider the fact that there are over 3000 vessels fishing in this region."
He said a regional effort to insist that the Western and Central Pacific Fishing Commission (WCPFC) tackle the problem now was necessary.
"And that's going to take everyone at this table and everyone in this room lobbying the appropriate people to make that happen because it's not going to happen otherwise. It's going to take the collective will of the people in this region and the people behind this table to push the WCPFC to take this issue further instead of ignoring it at the WCPFC meetings like it has for the last two years."