13 Oct 2004

Fiji government expected to announce a cutback in number of fishing vessels

3:40 pm on 13 October 2004

The Fiji government is expected to announce shortly a cutback in the number of fishing vessels licensed to operate in its waters.

A spokesman for the Fiji Tuna Association, Grahame Southwick, says this follows an agreement to limit the fleet to numbers recommended by two regional organisations.

He says the Forum Fishing Agency and the Pacific Community proposed last week that numbers be restricted from between 51 to 59.

Mr Southwick says regional governments are licensing subsidised foreign fleets which is undermining any chances of developing domestic fleets but Fiji is taking a different tack.

"They've decided to support the domestic fleet and there's going to be further cutbacks from 110 two years ago to 83 this current year. And, the decision is that the fleet will probably be further cut to 55 for 2005 at which point the domestic fleet will probably recover and start to survive."

Mr Southwick says the government is expected to reserve 20 licenses for indigenous vessels and 40 will be allocated to boats that have been operating since before 2001.