10 Jun 2005

Fishing officials in Majuro concerned about tuna commission

2:53 pm on 10 June 2005

Pacific fisheries officials meeting in Majuro in the Marshall Islands are expressing concern over the slow establishment of the new Tuna Commission that is for the first time to regulate tuna fishing on the high seas.

Australia's Fisheries Minister, Senator Ian Macdonald says the Tuna Commission is a real chance to properly manage the last great fishery in the world.

He says it is fine now but if nothing is done to protect the tuna it will be devastated in 20 years like all other fisheries around the world.

Taiwan is paying for the construction of a headquarters building in Pohnpei, but staff and operations of the secretariat are at a virtual standstill nearly six months after the launch of the Commission last December.

Late last month, Michael Lodge, the Australian selected by the initial 18-member nations to head the new Tuna Commission, turned down the position six months after being chosen.

The Tuna Commission's high seas authority is to link hand-in-glove with the Forum Fisheries Agency's enforced controls inside the 200-mile zones of each of its 16 island members.