17 Nov 2008

Game fishing clubs called on to support push for controls on tuna fishing industry

3:07 pm on 17 November 2008

Sports fishermen in the Marshall Islands are backing calls for stricter controls on tuna fishing in the region.

Scientists and Pacific island fisheries officials have been warning for the past three years that yellowfin and bigeye tuna are being over-fished but they have been unable to gain the support of many distant water fishing nations.

But sports fishermen in the Marshall Islands say they believe illegal fishing coupled with over-fishing by licensed vessels is causing a tuna drought in the region.

Chris deBrum, the President of the Marshalls Billfish Club says 10 years ago, yellowfin and bigeye tuna were abundant around Majuro atoll, but now it is very rare to run into a yellowfin school.

He says over-fishing and illegal fishing are directly contributing to the plunge in the availability of tuna for local fishermen.

Next month's meeting in Korea of the Tuna Commission is expected to be contentious as island fisheries officials want reductions in fishing levels while some Asian fishing nations say that the science does not support a cutback.

Mr deBrum is calling on sport fishing clubs in the region to support the efforts of Pacific governments and fishing agencies in their push to conserve stocks.