6 Sep 2004

Greenpeace says region alarmed at illegal fishing

3:33 pm on 6 September 2004

The environmentalist group Greenpeace says there is concern in the region that illegal fishing has now reached crisis levels.

The group's ship has visited Solomon Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia.

A Greenpeace campaigner, Quentin Hanich, says many people and stakeholders aired their concerns about diminishing tuna stocks.

He says Greenpeace also did its own research.

"We documented over a hundred and forty fishing vessels, with which many were fishing unregulated and not catching many fish. We really do believe that the tuna fishing industry is on the edge of a crisis. It seems they probably have about three to five years to really get in the hard measures required to protect these fisheries before its too late."

Mr Hanich says a new tuna commission that will be launched in December should crack down on unregulated fishing.

He says the tuna industry is worth about two billion US dollars a year to the Pacific region.