16 Jun 2015

Distant water fishing nations becoming more efficient - SPC

10:32 pm on 16 June 2015

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community says if tuna stocks are to be maintained, countries that make up the Parties to the Nauru agreement should soon look to reduce the number of fishing days for distant water fishing nations.

The PNA held its annual meeting in the Federated States of Micronesia last week.

The SPC's Oceanic Fisheries Programme manager, John Hampton, says the outcomes of the meeting were positive.

But he says as the efficiencies of distant water fishing countries increase, the numbers of fishing days they are allowed should be reconsidered.

"I think at some point in the not too distant future the PNA will need to consider the fact that even though the numbers of days that they're authorising is being held at a fixed level, that the efficiency of those days is increasing through the use of new technology, bigger and better boats and so on."

Secretariat of the Pacific Community building

Secretariat of the Pacific Community building Photo: RNZ

Meanwhile, John Hampton says this year's El Nino event is predicted to be the strongest since 1997.

He says stocks will likely move away from the Western Pacific towards the exclusive economic zones of Kiribati, Tuvalu, Tokelau and Nauru, as water temperatures change.

"We should see very strong fishing activity and catches over towards the central Pacific side of the region. If this event impacts the biology of the tuna resource in a similar fashion as it has in the past, we should possibly see a fairly strong recruitment particularly for Skipjack tuna next year, towards the end of next year."

John Hampton says this suggests the high catches being experienced at the moment will continue.

He says while that's good from a catching perspective, there is concern the current depressed price of Skipjack tuna in the marketplace will not be assisted by continuing strong supply.