NEWS

Fisheries Ministry Clarify Tuna Sizes After Container Spill At Walu Bay

It must be made clear that Fiji is only involved in long line fishing. This means that measures and standards of fishing are targeted at adult tuna species only.
30 Aug 2019 15:39
Fisheries Ministry Clarify Tuna Sizes After Container Spill At Walu Bay

The incident that took place two days ago where a container load of tuna had spilled onto the road in Walu Bay raised a lot of questions on social media.

Issues raised, included the size limits for tuna and the Ministry of Fisheries would like to elaborate on a few points.

It must be made clear that Fiji is only involved in long line fishing. This means that measures and standards of fishing are targeted at adult tuna species only.

These measures include appropriate fishing gear like the standard hook or appropriate hook size to target tuna.

This method of fishing has proven to be the most efficient and sustainable method which ensures that fish caught are of adult size only and that none are undersized.

It is important to understand that the conservation and management of tuna within the Pacific including Fiji is governed by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention (WCPFC).

This convention not only looks into size limits but identification of a quota system, catch limits and sustainable measures that ensures replenishment of all tuna species within its range.

Fiji’s tuna long line industry is known as an albacore fishery meaning that Albacore tuna is targeted while Big-Eye and Yellow Fin are the other two species that contribute to Fiji’s tuna catch.

Skipjack which is a surface fishery (caught between 0 to 50 metres) is the fourth species of tuna that is caught within Fiji waters.

All these tuna species have different adult size lengths and are listed below:
Skipjack – 40-80 centimetres
Yellow Fin – 40- 150 centimetres
Albacore -40-100 centimetres
Big Eye – 40-180 centimetres

The Ministry of Fisheries as party to the WCPFC and being responsible Port and Flag State, conduct mandatory inspection on all vessels that call into Fiji’s ports.

These mandatory inspections are reflected under Fiji’s fisheries legislation to ensure that all relevant checks are conducted on vessels that call into Fiji.

Apart from checks on documentation, gear and all equipment, the size of fish are cross checked using port monitoring activities (supervision and weighing of all fish landed according to species) and port sampling which measures the length of all fish landed.

This ensures that appropriate standards are met to allow tuna to repopulate and remain sustainable.

Based on the best scientific information available, Fiji’s catch quota restricts the issuance of license to 60 vessels only in the prescribed license period (12-36 months).

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