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The Harsh Realty Of Tuna Fishing Subsidies Pacific Islands Nations, June 3, 13

The subsidization policy has been around for more than a decade and enjoyed by most distant water fishing fleets but its impact on domestic fishing interests varies in large degrees.
For the more profitable purse seine fishing fleet that compete against the US fleet whose access is subsidized by its government but linked to foreign aid, the situation is not so ominous.
For the EU Swordfish fleet that enjoys the same support from the European Commission, it is not so evident because the Pacific does not have a similar fleet.

For the Southern Longline Albacore fishery the subsidies that the Chinese fleet enjoys is the nemesis of the Pacific Domestic industry.

Subsidies avenues that have been identified include fuel subsides, scrapping vessels, vessel building and tax treatment for payments of access. Other direct subsidies are received by means of industry favorable loan rates and the support for the exploration and development of fisheries technologies that grows fleet efficiency.

The subsidies policy has resulted m an additional 1395 new boats injected into China’s offshore fishing fleet, and directly into a fishery that is already struggling to maintain a sustainable economic yield. This new effort in the first quarter of 2013 translates into 289,000 metric tons in catches, which will go into a market that is stressed.

PITIA appreciates the intricacies’ that are interwoven into ‘National Interest’ and the delicate relationships that are a large factor in policy considerations, but sustainability is the fundamental of any management regime. Any other considerations should only work to support this principle and foster development.
For many of the member countries of PITIA that participate in the southern albacore longline fishery, this fishery is all they’ve got. This is their backbone fishery and the means for the Pacific Tuna Domestic Industry sector to contribute to Small Island Developing States (SIDs) economies.

Unfortunately, the harsh reality is, through our own licensing policies, we are responsible for granting access to the highly efficient, heavily subsidized fast growing fleet that is driving our domestic industry out of business. The cost per unit effort has deteriorated to the point where for the offseason part of the fishing calendar year, its more cost effective to tie vessels up. In recent experiences out at sea, the albacore season returns at a later date than what has historically been the norm.

Another harsh reality is the economic conditions of our island nations are such that we take the short-term income, rather than the longer term sensible, rationale and responsible domestic fisheries development.