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Tuna fishing industry has collapsed : Southwick


Jan 21, 2014 04:39:57 PM

Tuna fishing industry has collapsed : Southwick Over fishing by Chinese vessels has collapsed Fiji’s tuna fishing industry, says Fiji Fish Marketing chief executive Grahame Southwick.

Speaking to Fishing website Undercurrent News, Southwick who also heads the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association said the domestic boats have been catching less than 50 per cent of their break even for the last four-five years.

And this has forced Fiji-based companies, including New Zealand's Solander Ltd and Fiji Fish Marketing Group who provide much of the fresh albacore and yellow fin sold in New Zealand to close their local operations while a third company is also on the verge of closing.

“The catch rate in the Fiji zone has dropped from 200 albacore a day five-six years ago, steadily declined to 80, 50 and today averages 15-20 a day per boat."

Only five of the 35 boats owned by association members are still fishing.

Southwick said the situation was because of the "hundreds of state-subsidised foreign vessels which have surrounded Fiji".

The collapse comes after warnings last year over the way China has sent sophisticated and highly subsidised fishing boats to the South Pacific in a bid to kill off domestic fleets and seize control of the longline tuna fishery.

Forum Fisheries Agency figures show that last year there had been a 125 per cent jump in the size of China's South Pacific tuna fleet, with many of them just built.

New boats were built virtually for free, and Chinese boats received an additional subsidy if they sent their catch to China for processing.

Southwick said the Fiji industry could not compete with heavily subsidised Chinese vessels.

The Chinese boats enjoy duty-free access to China, while Fijian companies need to pay a 23 per cent import duty.

"They are not subject to the stringent surveys and manning regulations of Fiji vessels, nor to the taxes and levies and foreign exchange regulations imposed on Fiji vessels," Southwick added.


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