28 Oct 2003

Fiji fishing industry faces problems with too many boats chasing too few fish

11:17 am on 28 October 2003

Fiji's fishing industry is reported to be in dire straits, with the country's leading fishing company preparing to lay off more than 200 workers.

Fiji TV says Fiji Fish Limited has been forced to tie up 16 per cent of its vessels because fish stocks are depleted and there is nothing for the workers to do,

The company's chief executive, Graham Southwick, says while the country's sustainable fish catch is recommended at 50 to 60 vessels, the government has licensed more than 102 and about 40 to 50 more are fishing just outside Fiji's waters.

This is compounded by the fact that foreign fishing vessels from China, Korea and Taiwan catching fish in Fiji waters are allowed to offload their catches in Suva.

Mr Southwick says the whole industry is being devestated and the government is refusing to even acknoledge that there is a problem.