16 Sep 2003

Fiji fishing zones extensively monitored say officials

4:29 pm on 16 September 2003

Fiji officials say the country's maritime zones are being patrolled by local navy vessels and air force planes from Australia and New Caledonia.

The Fiji Times reports that senior fisheries offical, Malakai Tuiloa, gave the details after reports that the country's fish stocks were in danger of extinction because of overfishing by legal and illegal vessels.

At least nine boats are tied up because they cannot operate profitably.

Mr Tuiloa says the Illegal and Unreported Vessel Unit based in Honiara also checks licences and monitors vessels entering all regional ports.

He says the setting up of the Tuna Management Unit last year would also help address the tuna industry's problems.

Mr Tuiloa says domestic fishing grounds owned by the 14 indigenous provinces have fish wardens who patrol the zones.