Bigeye catches raise red flags as PNA considers closures

4:14 pm on 22 June 2015

A 'dramatic increase' in levels of bigeye tuna catches near Kiribati and the Marshall Islands is raising red flags.

The CEO of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, Dr Transform Aqorau, says it is a serious issue, as reports from the industry indicate bigeye landings in Thailand have increased four-fold over the past two years.

He says bigeye levels are already under stress from overfishing.

Yellow Fin tuna

Yellow Fin tuna Photo: RNZI

He says the limits imposed in PNA zones means the catches there have been stable, but on the eastern high seas, there's no limit, and it is affecting the PNA countries.

Dr Aqorau says there may be a need to close pockets in the eastern Pacific, as was done several years ago.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, has praised Spain for prosecuting its vessels in the Southern Ocean for illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

Action will be taken against 50 Spanish crew, and companies linked to the operations.