Saturday, June 09, 2012

Is Fiji's Tuna Industry facing Extinction?

Canned Tuna. There's heaps upon heaps of it - but is it possibly too cheap?

I was frankly dismayed by this article.
No not about the fact that the Tuna Industry wants to keep exploiting Sharks - that I knew already.
I was dismayed because apparently, Fiji's Tuna Industry is facing total collapse.

If so, fishing for Sharks will not save it.
It would merely establish a second unsustainable fishery on top of an apparently nonviable one. The result would be that Shark stocks would be quickly exhausted with devastating effects for marine ecosystems including the Tuna, meaning that in only a few years we would end up with no Sharks, no Tuna and even less Fish.
That surely cannot be the solution!

But that's not really the topic here.
I've said it before, everybody here wants the Tuna Industry to survive.
This is a vital component of Fiji's economy and everybody, and this very much including government, should lend a helping hand in assuring that both the local Tuna fishing and Tuna processing sectors can survive in the long term and continue providing for employment and opportunities for many generations to come.
This obviously mandates that the Industry be sustainable but also profitable.

For that to happen, it appears that the fishery needs to be reformed.
I really ignore the details - but if it is really true that Fiji's Tuna Industry is in such dire straights like its spokesman asserts, then the likely reasons could be.
  • That Tuna stocks are depleted.
    That is highly likely.
    You may want to re-read this post about the appalling shenanigans that happen within the WCPFC where outsiders like specifically Japan are stalling any efforts to curb quotas in line with the best scientific advice. This year specifically has been particularly depressing as previously reserved regions have been opened to allow the Philippines to further exploit the already ravaged stocks of Bigeyes,
    If those foreign powers continue to interfere and sabotage the attempts to safeguard those precious stocks, Fiji should do what is best for Fiji and set its own targets and rules, very much like the PNA have already done.
    In the end, there is only one long term solution, and that is to fish sustainably, and this very much also by defining the quotas in line with the precautionary principle.
    Interestingly, this is what Mr. Southwick himself appears to be advocating here!
  • That there is Overcapacity.
    There are probably already too many boats fishing for too few Fish and if so, Fiji should reduce the number of fishing licenses that are being awarded and thus increase the profit margin for individual vessels.
    There, I'm principally thinking of the licenses awarded to foreign vessels.
    Their track record is unequivocal: they have already overfished their own stocks, have zero regard for our well being but will instead catch whatever they can get their hands on, and then sail on once our stocks are equally depleted, leaving Fiji to contend with the long-term consequences - or am I to believe that the price of the licenses contains a component for mitigation? I wish!
    I say, Fiji first! If the Asians want to eat Tuna caught in Fiji, let them buy Fijian Tuna caught by Fijian fishermen and exported by Fijian processing plants!
    Did I hear, and what happens to the development aid by those countries, namely Europe, Taiwan and the US to name but a few?
    If they want to assist us by paying for poverty alleviation and development, we are certainly grateful. But to link it to an unsustainable fishery that depletes our national resources and ultimately impoverishes the nation and its population cannot possibly be acceptable, not economically and not ethically - or am I missing something here?
  • That the fishery is not profitable.
    If so and if all costs have already been slashed, then the price of Tuna must increase. Canned Tuna is probably too cheap and the time where it was viewed as some kind of junk food must come to an end.
    One smart strategy for convincing customers to pay more, is to have the fishery certified like once again the PNA have already achieved. That of course implies that the fishery is truly sustainable, meaning that bycatch and other ecological impacts will need to be reduced, as already required by, the current MSC environmental standard. Another group, the ISSF is asking its members not to work with vessels that fin Sharks
    In fact, the Fijian Albacore longline fishery is currently being assessed and my hope is that the Industry as a whole will decide to follow that route.
    I say, let's brand our Tuna.
    With Fiji Water having already paved the way and Government facilitating the process, let's establish Fiji Tuna as being Tuna that has been caught sustainably in pristine waters by happy, friendly and fairly compensated fishermen!
But the current unsustainable fishing for Sharks must stop.
At best, it is a short term stop-gap measure that is merely detracting from the need to urgently tackle the real issues at hand. But it is of course much more than that: if it continues unchecked, it will lead to the collapse of all fisheries - and this very much including the local fishery for Tuna!

And that's not something anybody can possibly want.


OfficetoOcean said...

"I say, Fiji first! If the Asians want to eat Tuna caught in Fiji, let them buy Fijian Tuna caught by Fijian fishermen and exported by Fijian processing plants!"

Hear hear, or is it here here? Either way, agree on everything.

Horizon Charters Guadalupe Cage Diving said...

I say DO NOT mess with my $1.25 can of all white tuna.

As a middle class (smile)American with vast appetites I should be able to eat what I want when I want and in what quantities I want without some whinging local in Fiji crying about how their tuna is being depleted.

I don't happen to see Fiji with standing armies and aircraft carriers, we have those things so we can consume.

Back off the tuna man, you mess with that the cascade economic effects will be terrible.

Mayonnaise factories? Shuttered.

Fresh wheat bread factories? Shuttered.

And not to mention our verdant fields of onions and celery, all go into the tuna sandwich eaten with gusto by millions of Americans each and every day.

Freedom to choose, freedom to eat!

Godless conservation antichrists and their Tuna Jihad - I say enough!

Horizon Charters Guadalupe Cage Diving said...

In case some of your dimmer readers out there missed it that last post of mine was pure "send up"...still I do enjoy tuna.

DaShark said...

Me, too, I love my Tuna!

And I would gladly part with $ 1.49 for a can of sustainably caught wild Skipjack vs a can of questionable farmed Salmon!

OfficetoOcean said...

Conservationists eating Tuna? Outrage! Fins down lads, fins down.

Horizon Charters Guadalupe Cage Diving said...


Just TRY and not eat a grilled open faced tuna sandwich with aged white cheddar and a fresh oregano sprig on top.

A sprig of the stuff I say, a sprig!

OfficetoOcean said...

I'm not overly fussed on Tuna myself, prawns, scallops and lobster though, count me in :)