8 May 2015

Fishing cuts doubted as conservation move

1:16 pm on 8 May 2015

The US-based Tri Marine International, whose American Samoa operations includes a cannery and a purse seiner fishing fleet, says reducing fishing days as a conservation effort will not fix the problem.

The World Tuna Purse-seine Organisation, WTPO, says its members have agreed to adopt a 35 percent reduction of fishing efforts from mid-May to the end of the year.

It also plans to meet in July to assess the situation and take further action, if necessary.

Tri Marine chief operation officers, Joe Hamby, says the company - which is not a member of the WTPO - sympathises with the WTPO boat owners' predicament because the current price of tuna is below their cost of fishing.

He says the WTPO believes that reducing the fishing days will help balance supply and demand and allow prices to increase.

But Mr Hamby says slowing down the boats will not fix the problem of excess fishing capacity.

He says there is a need for leadership, especially from the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, to freeze fishing capacity so that new boats cannot enter the fishery unless they are replacing comparably sized boats that have been scrapped.

Frozen albacore tuna offloaded in Lami, Fiji

Frozen albacore tuna offloaded in Lami, Fiji Photo: RNZ / Philippa Tolley