20 Jan 2014

Fiji tuna industry 'beyond a crisis'

7:30 am on 20 January 2014

Fiji's tuna fishing industry has gone well beyond a crisis, according to the managing director of the Fiji Fish Marketing Group.

Graham Southwick says years of overfishing in the Southwest Pacific fishery means companies like his are having to lay off hundreds of staff and are losing millions of dollars every year.

He says that he has requested an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister, but in his view, the situation is so bad there can be no turning back.

"It was at a crisis level probably 10 years ago, this is the complete shutdown we've been warning them of since 1995. It's essentially gross overfishing by state subsidised foreign vessels and the catch rate is so low now that vessels themselves are not able to continue."

Graham Southwick says it would take at least 10 years for tuna stocks to start to recover if action were to be taken immediately.