16 Sep 2003

Fiji fish stocks plummet because of overfishing by foreigners

4:27 pm on 16 September 2003

The owner of Fiji's largest and oldest fishing company, Graham Southwick, says his business can only survive 6 months because of the low fish stocks in the country's water.

Mr Southwick says the Fiji government is allowing too many vessels to fish in its water and it has also not shown the will to stop illegal boats.

He says because of this the fishing industry is in a shocking state.

Mr Southwick says experts from New Zealand and Australia agree that the current situation is not sustainable.

However he says he is having trouble convincing Fiji's government of the problem.

"We've been battling with the Fiji Government for a number of years, over this thing. We've been forcasting this problem and sure enough it's happened, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of response at the moment. We really need severe international intervention here, because not only is Fiji allowing people coming down and steal reasonable fish, but Fiji is providing the get away car, as a matter of fact, we're driving it for them."

Mr Southwick says nine local boats have been tied up for months and many smaller businesses have already ceased operations.