20 Nov 2012

Fiji Tuna Boat owners say local fishers at risk because of increase in Chinese vessels

2:34 pm on 20 November 2012

The Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association says the future of domestic tuna companies in the Pacific is at risk because of a rapid increase in the number of Chinese vessels.

The number of registered Chinese vessels in Pacific waters has almost doubled over the last four years - from 199 in 2008 to 388 this year.

The chief executive of Fiji Fish and Secretary of the association, Russell Dunham, says all tuna boat owners have noticed a rapid increase in Chinese vessels on the water in the past 18 months.

He says it has reached a point where it is going to affect the amount of fish domestic boats catch.

"When vessel numbers increase to such an extent economics would dictate that if you're not catching enough fish to make money then eventually you'll go elsewhere or tie up. When you're dealing with some of the fleets that are subsidised then obviously they can operate at lower operating costs and keep fishing."

Russell Dunham says a solution to protect the fish population and locals is in the pipeline but he hopes it happens sooner rather than later.