13 Oct 2004

Fiji Tuna Association says preference should be given to domestic fleets

2:21 pm on 13 October 2004

The Fiji Tuna Association says a strategy should be developed to support domestic fleets over foreign fleets which are depleting fishing stocks in the region.

The Association's Grahame Southwick says to date, regional countries license overseas boats to earn an income but it prevents domestic fleets from developing.

He says this is not sound because one domestic boat is worth ten times the income to an economy than a foreign vessel.

But, Mr Southwick says domestic, commercial fleets can't compete with foreign fleets which are subsidised

"Domestic fleets costs are much higher than the foreign fleets, particularly the Chinese fleets that are not bound by the same rules, don't pay the taxes, pick up duty free fuel, employ foreign crew at much less rate than local crew, and if they lose money, which they do constantly, they're topped up by their state."

Mr Southwick says the Fiji government is taking the opposite strategy and supporting its domestic fleet.

He says it plans to reduce the number of vessels operating in its waters even further from 83 to close to 60.