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Tuna sector

Monika Singh
Tuesday, December 05, 2017

THREE critical issues facing Fiji's tuna sector were highlighted by Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau at the 14th regular session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Manila, the Philippines over the weekend.

Mr Koroilavesau said the first was on the importance of "observers" on tuna vessels which was also widely discussed at the last WCPFC meeting in Denarau last year.

"Observers form the basis of science which allows us as managers and stewards to better understand the status of resources before agreeing to appropriate measures," said Mr Koroilavesau.

He also raised the issues of "disproportionate burden" for small island developing states (SIDS) which he adds cannot be addressed in isolation.

"Different levels of development, diverse economic, social and political situations all play a role," he added.

The Fiji delegation also raised the importance of "catch certification" as a tool that should be used by member countries in the fight against illegal and unregulated fishing in the high seas.

"Through catch certification, our domestic fleet have accessed niche markets with their value added products at a premium value," Mr Koroilavesau informed the 600 delegates from more than 20-member countries attending the meeting.

He also informed the conference that Fiji's long line fishery was currently being assessed for a replacement certificate to include albacore and yellowfin tuna within Fiji's EEZ and adjacent high seas.

"My ministry will move a notch higher to work more collaboratively with our private sector in order for them to continue benefiting from such a certification," he said.

He also urged the commission to implement the Harvest Strategy Work Plan discussed on Denarau last year.

The weeklong meeting ends on December 7.

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