Topic: Pacific Affairs

Key to address fisheries concerns raised at Pacific Forum

By Ripeka Timutimu

Pacific leaders have raised concerns at the Pacific Forum in Papua New Guinea about reduced fishery stocks in the Pacific.  Prime Minister John Key is now taking action to address their concerns.

New Zealand has committed $50mil over the next three years to support a massive transformation of Pacific fisheries.  The main goal will be to conserve fishery stocks but increase profits for smaller nations. 

Cook Island Minister Henry Puna says, "We are people of the sea, we grew up with the sea and that's where our lives will end."

No catch is a common occurrence around the Pacific these days.  Minister Puna believes people outside of the region are mistaken the Pacific has an abundance of fish.

He says, "There is a perception that fisheries is a commodity for them and that's where the difference is."

Some Pacific countries are charging foreign vessels thousands of dollars per day to fish in their waters.  However they often miss out on a big chunk of the profit.

Now they're looking to New Zealand for advice on a quota management system to ensure they gain more out of their own resources.

Niuean Prime Minister Toke Talagi says, "The idea that we should be just using vessel-based schemes is nonsense.  You can pay $15,000 for fishing but you could catch about $100,000 so what's that, it's disproportionate."

Anote Tong says, "We have always had concerns about vessel-based system was a bit dangerous because we are having reports of... [sic] with the technology becoming the vessel-based scheme was getting a bit dangerous in terms of sustainability."

90% of the tuna fisheries catch from the region is processed outside of the region, a major concern for these leaders.

Tong says, "Apart from Papua New Guinea, not many of the countries... much of the fish is processed outside like Thailand... opportunities are being created amongst our people."

The sun has set here in Port Moresby, but light has certainly been shed on sustainable fisheries in the Pacific.