2 Jun 2005

Fishing expert says the Pacific's big eye tuna could be gone in a year unless there's action

8:02 pm on 2 June 2005

A regional fisheries expert says the most pressing challenge facing the Pacific region over the coming year is to protect big eye tuna before stocks become extinct.

The director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's Oceanic Fisheries Program, Dr John Hampton, says big eye tuna will disappear in twelve months at current catch rates.

He says the newly established Tuna Commission and industry's stakeholders in the Pacific have to act now to prevent this.

"It's going to be quite a challenge, with this new Tuna Commission having had its first meeting in December last year - its a new institution so it is going to be immediately challenged with an overfishing problem with big eye tuna, and it will have to take some kind of action fairly soon."

Dr John Hampton says this is likely to be high on the agenda for a meeting next week of Pacific Islands Forum nations in the Marshall Islands.