Competition from foreign vessels allowed to over fish in Fiji's waters, corruption and mismanagement has plunged the Fiji tuna fishing industry into crisis
According to Fiji Sun Business, two of the country’s major fishing companies – Fiji Fish Marketing Group and Solander (Pacific) Limited — have had to shut down part of their fishing operations in recent times, due to lack of available volumes to fish.
The Fiji Sun also reported that a third Fijian fishing company, possibly Sea Quest, is believed to be on the brink of foreclosure, adding that the situation would also likely heavily impact Pacific Fishing Company Limited, a major cannery in Fiji and the Pacific.
The Fiji Sun wrote that the domestic tuna industry, “also dubbed as Fiji’s $300 million industry” is “close to its total collapse”, with most of the major tuna companies being forced to cease operation.
Fiji Sun Business found that 75% of the Fiji domestic tuna fleet have ceased operations with many of their vessels anchored in Suva Harbour for more than a year. The companies suffering “massive losses over the last four to five years”. The remaining vessels are likely to cease operations shortly.
Fiji Fish Marketing’s CEO Grahame Southwick [who also heads the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association] confirmed the situation, stating that in a nutshell, Fiji domestic boats have been catching less than 50% of their break even for the last four-five years.
Fiji Fish, which has a processing plant in Lami, has stopped all its tuna fishing operations and will close five of its seven fish outlets. It will only continue processing and trading, and servicing the remaining foreign vessels, said Southwick. It’s had to lay off hundreds of staff since mid-November including captains, engineers, fishermen and factory staff.
According to the Fiji Sun the issues with over fishing was compounded by the Fiji government issuing excessive domestic licenses against all advice, encouraging fly by night so called ‘charter boat’ operators who are in fact 100% foreign owned and controlled and have successfully infiltrated the domestic fishery.