10 Sep 2015

Pacific fisheries leader says bigeye catch must be cut

7:48 pm on 10 September 2015

The executive director of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, or Tuna Commission, says he is making it his mission to cut the size of the bigeye catch in the region.

Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Executive Director Feleti Teo.

Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Executive Director Feleti Teo. Photo: FFA

Feleti Teo says the bigeye catch has been unsustainable for some time and taking action cannot be delayed any longer.

Mr Teo has told Pacific Islands Forum leaders at their summit in Papua New Guinea that the picture for other tuna stocks - skipjack, yellowfin and albacore - is less grim but still requires careful management.

He says although yellowfin stock is not in an overfished state, Tuna Commission scientists strongly recommend there be no further increase in efforts and catch levels.

Mr Teo says the assessment for skipjack stocks are that the current catch level is currently sustainable, but bigger takes and a decline in size have been noted.

And he says a South Pacific albacore study this year concluded the catch should be reduced, to maintain economically viable catch rates.

The Tuna Commission holds its annual meeting in December.

Tuna Commission head Feleti Teo calls for regional commitment to ensuring sustainable management of fish stocks.

Tuna Commission head Feleti Teo calls for regional commitment to ensuring sustainable management of fish stocks. Photo: FFA

Meanwhile, Niue's premier says the region's fisheries Vessel Day Scheme needs changing.

New Zealand has advocated a quota style management system while Niue's Toke Talagi also says the Vessel Day scheme doesn't give islands the best value.

"The idea that we should be just using the Vessel Day Scheme as a way of getting money is nonsense. You get paid $15,000 a day and you might get a catch of say $100,000 dollars - it is disproportionate. What we need to do is argue the point, but it should be based on tonnage caught."

Fisheries has been one of the main issues on the Pacific Islands Forum agenda this week.