8 May 2015

Tuna catch reduction welcomed

11:20 am on 8 May 2015

New Zealand's Pacific Economic Ambassador Shane Jones has welcomed a move to cut back on skipjack tuna catches.

Skipjack tuna from a vessel at Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, destined for transfer to canneries in Asia.

Skipjack tuna from a vessel at Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, destined for transfer to canneries in Asia. Photo: AFP

Some of the world's biggest tuna fishing fleets have [ttp://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/272938/purse-seine-fishers-agree-to-further-reduction agreed to reduce their catch] by 35 percent in an effort to ease a market crisis.

Excess supply of skipjack tuna has led to prices crashing from $US2513 a tonne in 2013 to $US1256, causing many boats to operate at a loss.

Shane Jones.

Shane Jones (file) Photo: RNZ / Jane Patterson

The World Tuna Purse Seine Organisation - covering the Western and Central Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans - has announced its members will be co-operating with the effort.

A group of countries in the Pacific controlling the world's largest tuna fishery has welcomed the initiative, saying stocks are facing disaster and domestic fleets are suffering.

The group includes Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

Mr Jones was not involved in the voluntary move but was in Solomon Islands last week and discussed the issue.

"We focused on the fact that there is too much effort in the skipjack tuna industry," he said.

"Where there are 300 purse seine vessels, we could probably do the job with a third of the reduction."

Fleets in the Eastern Pacific Ocean are excluded from the measure due to the fishery closure in the region starting on 29 July.

The reduction is due to begin on 15 May and stay in effect until the end of the year.