The Fijian Fishing Industry

This is an informative publication, sponsored by The Fiji Sun, Fiji Bureau of Statistics and HFC Bank. All views expressed or implied are purely of the Treasurer at the HFC
26 Sep 2015 10:22
The Fijian Fishing Industry

This is an informative publication, sponsored by The Fiji Sun, Fiji Bureau of Statistics and HFC Bank. All views expressed or implied are purely of the Treasurer at the HFC Bank, Peter Fuata.


The fisheries industry is the third largest primary sector in Fiji.

Five hundred million people in developing countries mostly depend on this industry for their livelihood whether it be direct or indirect (Wikipedia).

In the year 2012, the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation reported that the export value of world trade in fish was US$129.2 billion.

Over 50 per cent of seafood traded worldwide came from developing countries; globally, developing countries are net exporters of fishery products.

Fishing is well known in developing countries as a vital primary sector since it is an important food source for the locals, for export, generate employment opportunities and is closely linked to the tourism industry.

In 2014, the fishing industry reported a growth of 1.4 per cent in GDP and this was mainly due to increased production in Offshore Marine Fishing.

It was reported in the 2014 budget that fisheries sector contributes 2.8 per cent to GDP and 9.7 per cent to total export earnings.

Fiji exports frozen fish including deep water snapper, sunfish, swordfish, blue marlin, striped marlin, mahi-mahi, wahoo, beachde-mer, species of tuna, reef fish, etc. to overseas markets.

The major export markets are the United States of America, Japan, Australia, European Union, Thailand, and New Zealand.

Tuna is a major foreign exchange earner for this industry and this is boosted by the immense and lucrative sashimi and sushi markets in Japan and the United States, not to mention the development of domestic tuna long line cannery and processing companies (Investment Fiji).


Industry overview

The Government began to draft three legislations into the National Council in 2010 that would establish the Fisheries Council.

By 2011, fish became one of the leading domestic export commodity.

The tuna industry was on a verge to collapse in 2014 because most fleets were not able to catch enough fish in order to breakeven.

With the amount of competition from foreign vessels increasing and lack of management that led to overfishing, the catch rate in Fijian waters has decreased dramatically from 200 albacore tuna a day in 2010/11 to about 15-20 recently.

According to the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association, approximately 75 per cent of the domestic fleet have ceased operation in the last five years.

To combat exploitation of offshore fisheries, the Government passed the Offshore Fisheries Management Decree in January 2013.

This decree entitles the government to, for example, place special conditions on a licence, restrictions on fishing type, method and gear; fishing areas; target species and the amount of fish taken (including bycatch); and the times when fishing can take place.

It can be noted in graph 2 that once this decree came into place, the GDP at constant basic price for fishing and aquaculture started to increase when compared to 2012.

Under the 2009 Foreign Investment Regulations (FIR) and Foreign Investment (Amendment) Regulation 2013, for any foreign investment in the fisheries sector, “At least 30 per cent equity held by Fiji citizen(s) and the foreign investor must have at least $500,000 in owner’s contribution or paid-up capital for companies in the form of cash from the operational date, to be fully brought into Fiji within the implementation period”.


Final words

I will conclude with a quote from the Minister for Fisheries and Forests, Mr. Osea Naiqama during the 2015 Fiji Coastal Consultation: “It is envisioned that once proper enforcement of fisheries laws and regulations are in place, advantageous impacts would lead to sustainable benefits to coastal fisheries for all people in Fiji – well into the future.”



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