13 Dec 2007

Stricter tuna controls needed at national level says Marshalls fisheries boss

8:52 am on 13 December 2007

There are calls for Pacific countries to adopt stricter tuna fishing controls at the national level.

The head of the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority's call follows the failure last week of an international Tuna Commission meeting to reach an agreement on urgently needed conservation measures.

The yellowfin and bigeye tuna are both in danger of being over-fished.

But the member countries left the meeting in Guam empty handed after Japan and a few Asian fishing nations refused to back plans to cut back on catches for the two threatened tuna species.

The Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority director, Glen Joseph, expressed disappointment over the inability of the Tuna Commission to take needed action to protect tuna fish in the Pacific.

He says the Pacific tuna stocks have to be helped now by strong conservation measures.

The annual Pacific tuna catch is worth an estimated US$2.3 billion and is said by many to be the last healthy fishery in the world.

New Zealand's Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton, the current chair of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Committee, was highly critical of the countries that refused to take action.