8 Dec 2014

Price of fish hurting Pacific fishermen

3:11 pm on 8 December 2014

Fishing boats in the US territories are facing a crisis due to the low price of fish and a huge reduction in fishing grounds in neighboring Pacific islands.

Tarakihi in bin

Photo: PHOTO NZ

American Samoan boat owners say the crisis is compounded by more and more subsidised Chinese fishing boats being allowed to fish in the region.

The Chief Operating Officer of Tri Marine International, Joe Hamby, says today, fishermen earn about 1,000 US dollars a tonne, but the amount of fish they have to catch in order to cover just fuel and access fees has doubled.

Mr Hamby says the everyday expenses are exorbitant, and don't include supplies, repairs or insurance.

"Every day just fuel and access costs $20,000 a day. So how much fish do you have to catch to cover just those expenses? At today's prices you have to catch about 30 tonnes of fish. So what if you have a bad day? You don't find the fish? There's no guarantees, it's fishing."

Joe Hamby says fish prices are half what they were 18 months ago but licence fees have gone up.