Fiji Time: 6:23 PM on Friday 27 November

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Tuna data setback

Dawn Gibson
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

AT a annual meeting hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, about 20 stock assessment scientists from the Asia-Pacific region discussed concerns over the lack of scientific assessment of tunas in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO).

SPC Oceanic Fisheries Program head of Stock Assessment and Modelling Dr Shelton Harley remarked that the lack of assessment data was "frustrating".

"The data have been collected and are just sitting on computers in countries and not contributing to the efforts to determine the health and safe harvest levels for the largest tuna resource in the world," Dr Harley said in an SPC statement.

Fiji-based tuna expert and fisheries consultant Robert Gillett told this newspaper that while assessment of tunas was an issue, Fiji had been efficient in data collection.

"Fiji, like many other countries, has observers on tuna vessels operating in Fiji waters and they collect information and yes that information is collected by Fiji and forwarded on to Fiji for analysis but it's also forwarded on to SPC for analysis," Mr Gillett said.

He said Fiji engaged in measuring large numbers of tunas which were offloaded, trans-shipped in the harbour and had been offloaded in Fiji for processing here.

When asked if more could be done regionally to make assessment work for these scientists easier, Mr Gillett said it would take an international effort rather than just a local one.

"Because you have the Asian fleets that are fishing both inside the 200-mile zones and outside the 200-mile zones and so it's got to be done through the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

"There is a provision that they have to provide this data, but some countries are dragging their feet on providing data. I'm not sure which countries are not providing adequate data, but I suspect it's Taiwan, Taiwan has more fishing vessels and longliners than any other country in the Central and Western Pacific."

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