Fiji is working on a Tuna Management Plan to manage and conserve its tuna stock as some species are on the verge of being overfished.

Consultation work on this plan has been making its rounds with stakeholders and consultations have looked at issues pertaining to the management of tuna stock.

“Big eye (a Tuna specie) is on the verge of being overfished while albacore and yellow fin is still in abundance” said the Senior Trade Officer for the Department of Fisheries Mr Joela Cama on Jul 11.

“For the purposes of evaluation, ‘non-target’ tunas include all tuna and tuna-like species except Albacore. However, it should be noted that other species may be targeted in certain areas or times of the year.”

He added that ‘non-target’ tuna comprise nearly half the total Fiji tuna catch in weight, of which a large majority of that is yellow fin tuna.

Yellow fin comprises 34 per cent of all tuna caught in the Fiji long-line fishery, whereas big eye (11 per cent) and skipjack (2 per cent) are caught less frequently.

A paper is being put together to present to Cabinet on recommendations for sustainable harvesting of tuna. One of the key issues being discussed is the Annual License Cap which this is the number of license given every year for fishing vessels to harvest tuna in Fiji’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

“The ALC is a management tool for conservation of our tuna which is being fished in our waters,” Mr Cama said.

“At present there are 70 Fiji flag fishing vessels which harvest tuna from our seas while another 97 has been approved by Government under the Western Central Pacific Commission which fishes in the high seas of the Pacific.”

Associated issues also discussed is the annual total allowable catch, the tuna development plan, licensing systems (structure, criteria) and monitoring and surveillance of harvests.