Offshore Fishing Sector Injects $127m Into Economy Annually

The sus­tainable use of tuna resources has been at the forefront of Fiji’s na­tional and regional quest.
28 Feb 2019 11:42
Offshore Fishing Sector Injects $127m Into Economy Annually
Fiji vessel Solander XIV

Offshore fishing sector has been a driver of Fiji’s fish­eries economy with its long line fleet worth around US$60 mil­lion ($127,272,333.92) annually.

Minister for Fisheries Semi Ko­roilavesau made the statement while launching the Protected Spe­cies Bycatch Mitigation Training Manual at the Fiji Maritime Acad­emy in Suva on Monday.

The training manual prepared by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and funded by the New Zealand government is a bid to promote and strengthen sustainable offshore fishing practices,

Speaking during the launch, Mr Koroilavesau said the manual was a step in the right direction in ad­dressing the issues of bycatch for Fiji and the region.

“For Fiji, in this regard, the sus­tainable use of tuna resources has been at the forefront of Fiji’s na­tional and regional quest,” Minis­ter Koroilavesau said.

“While recognising that Fiji is at the end trail of migrating tuna stocks, there is a growing interna­tional demand for responsibly har­vested tuna,” he said.

“The manual hopes to address the issues of bycatch to any fishing na­tion. It is inevitable that there will be interaction between fishers and protected species which include fish and non-fin fish like sharks, turtles and seabirds.”

He said the manual provides an accredited platform for crew mem­bers and it offers the perfect oppor­tunity for fish handlers to contrib­ute to a sustainable environment.

“While the development of a “best approach” to mitigate and avoid capture of unwanted bycatch is a huge progress, the success of this tool requires continuous collabora­tion between all stakeholders, in­cluding fishers, processors, train­ers, non-government organisations and national fisheries agency to name a few,”

“This manual would enable train­ees to identify the animals which are of special interest or protected species, explain the current re­quirements when interaction with protected species occur, explain why protected species get caught during fishing activities, describe what “best practice” in avoiding interaction, use safe handling and release practices and be able to develop individual Vessel Manage­ment Plans.”

The Protected Species Bycatch Mitigation Training Manual will run parallel to the International Convention on Standards of Train­ing and Watch Keeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel or (STCW-F).

Mr Koroilavesau said he was opti­mistic that it would not only build capacity for the fishing sector but more importantly, complements the collective approach that Fiji and its partners were undertaking in the sustainable use and protec­tion of our limited resources.

The bycatch manual is made pos­sible through WWF Pacific’s ‘De­veloping Sustainable and Respon­sible Tuna Longline Fisheries in Fiji’ project funded by New Zealand Aid’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and coordinated through WWF New Zealand.

WWF Pacific’s representative Kesaia Tabunakiwai said: “WWF in partnership with FMA, the Fiji Fishing Industry Association and the Ministry of Fisheries has em­barked on this three-year project, with the generous support of the New Zealand aid programme.

“The project will ensure that Fiji’s tuna sector continues to enhance its reputation as a world leader in sustainable tuna fisheries by en­hancing capacity and understand­ing for bycatch mitigation and contributing to the management of Fiji offshore fisheries which in turn strengthens the contribution of sustainable tuna fisheries to Fiji’s economy.”

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