27 Jan 2014

Fiji's political group says addressing tuna issue "too little, too late"

7:38 am on 27 January 2014

The Fiji political grouping, the United Front for a Democratic Fiji, says the fisheries ministry and the government have not addressed problems with the tuna industry with urgency.

The UFDF says a suggestion by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forests to set up a committee to look into the issue, is too little too late.

The comments follow revelations by the Fiji Fish Marketing Group the country's tuna fishing industry has gone well beyond a crisis, with years of overfishing in the Southwest Pacific leading to hundreds of job losses and a loss of millions of dollars each year.

A leader of the UFDF, Mick Beddoes, says there are two main issues that need to be addressed urgently, including the proliferation of foreign fishing licences.

"For starters there has to be a serious cutback on the number of vessels that are allowed to be issued with licences to do the fishing and to bring it in line with the recommendations that have apparently already been given with regards to the number of licences that should be, to work within that.

Mick Beddoes says the second issue is that most foreign fishing vessels are subsidised by China and local fishermen in Fiji cannot compete.