1 Dec 2014

Showdown expected in Samoa over tuna

12:38 pm on 1 December 2014

A showdown between Pacific islands and distant water fishing nations over the management of the world's largest tuna fishery is expected at a major fisheries summit in Samoa this week.

Island fisheries officials and representatives of non-government groups want to reel in fishing for bigeye, a tuna prized by sashimi markets in Asia, America and Europe, and limit catches of other tuna to maintain stocks that scientists say are in danger.

The Tuna Commission, or the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission as it is formally known, is holding its annual meeting in Apia this week.

The meeting has major implications for global tuna markets, which saw nearly 60 percent of their tuna come from the central and western Pacific ocean in 2013.

Man guides frozen tuna down a slide to waiting container

Frozen tuna are unloaded in Fiji from Taiwanese vessel Photo: RNZ / Philippa Tolley

The Director of Fisheries in the Marshall Islands, Glen Joseph, says the Tuna Commission needs to change its way of doing business and how it treats small island developing states.

Mr Joseph says he is frustrated more is not being done to regulate high-seas fishing, which comes under the Commission's jurisdiction.

Greenpeace calls for FAD ban

The environmental organisation, Greenpeace, says unless the Commission declares a total ban on fish aggregation devices, the meeting is just talk.

The man-made devices known as FADs are placed in the ocean to attract fish.

A spokesperson, Lagi Toribau, says figures show FADs have a devastating impact on juvenile bigeye.

He says the Commission must tackle unchecked overfishing and ensure member countries follow the rules or face stiff penalties.