A leading fisheries official says heavy tuna fishing during the first five months of the year could force the closure of lucrative fishing grounds in the western and central Pacific by late 2013.
The Marshall Islands fisheries director, Glen Joseph, says the eight-member Parties to the Nauru Agreement, which controls waters where 70 per cent of the Pacific's skipjack tuna is caught, has set a limit of about 50,000 days for fishing in 2013.
He says they will likely be out of fishing days by October and some parties will have to close their exclusive economic zones.
In 2011, Solomon Islands closed its lucrative ocean zone to fishing when it ran out of days, and only reopened after purchasing additional days from other PNA members.
The PNA is comprised of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Nauru, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu.