Tri Marine Increasing Pole And Line Catch

Tri Marine's Solomon Island fishing company, National Fisheries Developments(NFD), is increasing their pole and line fishing fleet in response to consumer demand.

ABC Asia Pacific News - August 1, 2011

Old school tuna fishing had almost died out in the Pacific but now it's enjoying something of a revival thanks to environmental worries.

Pole and line fishing where fishermen standing shoulder to shoulder with rods would haul in the catch, gave way to purse seiner fishing where schools of tuna and whatever else is with them get swept up in huge nets.

However, a Solomon Islands outfit has found a niche market in Britain where a premium price will be paid for tuna caught the old-fashioned way.

ABC Asia Pacific News interviews NFD's Adrian Wickham on traditional fishing in Solomon Islands

VIDEO from Asia Pacific Focus
Adrain Wickham, NFD General Manager


Updated: Mon, 1 Aug 2011 14:01:00 +1000

SEAN DORNEY, PACIFIC CORRESPONDENT: This is the way tuna used to be caught years ago. Bait fish were caught and scattered near schools of tuna and then the fishermen got to work

It was labour intensive but it lost out to more efficient methods which saddened those who believed it suited the Pacific islands, people like Adrian Wickham.

ADRIAN WICKHAM, SOLOMON ISLANDS NATIONAL FISHERIES DEVELOPMENT LTD: But unfortunately pole and line fishing could not sustain itself.

And I say unfortunately because it was a very good form of fishing for the Solomon Islands in that it absorbed a lot of young youth that didn't need to have too much of a formal education.

But unfortunately you know purse-seining took over as the preferred mode of tuna fishing because it was just basically a bottom line issue. It's more profitable and lower cost and higher yield.

SEAN DORNEY: But things have changed thanks to the environmental lobby in Europe.

ADRIAN WICKHAM: In particular in the UK. In the UK it's very, very strong bias now towards pole and line fishing.

But in recent years there's been a lot of moves by the environmentalists.

And whilst pole and line fishing, you couldn't get a premium price above purse seine fishing in years gone by. But the market is changing slowly we believe. And there's indications now that there is a better price.

SEAN DORNEY: Adrian Wickham's company currently operates five purse seiners worth about $US5 million each. The Solomon Ruby is one of them.

He says they will remain the mainstay of the fleet. He's not getting too carried away with the pole and line revival although he welcomes it.

The limited move back to pole and line fishing is not the only development that might help sustain the stocks.

The eight Pacific island countries whose combined exclusive economic zones host an estimated 30 per cent of the word's tuna are enforcing on themselves new rules about how much fishing can be done.

It's an initiative of the PNA, the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, and it's called the vessel day scheme.

Each country is allocated days that it can then auction off to foreign fishing fleets.

GORDON DARCY-LILO, SOLOMON ISLANDS FINANCE MINISTER: So that any fishing company that comes into the country must pay for the value of that vessel day scheme to fish in the country.

SEAN DORNEY: The Solomon Islands government has just ordered all open-water tuna fishing in its exclusive economic zone to stop because it has already used up all its fishing days for 2011.

GORDON DARCY-LILO: But as it is right now we've exhausted it before the end of the calendar year.

One reason could be that we may have priced it very cheaply and therefore everybody just came rushing in to fish in our waters.

SEAN DORNEY: The Solomon Islands finance minister says they will put a much higher reserve price on their days for auction next year.

One other issue the PNA is keen to press is having more Pacific Islanders employed in the tuna industry.

Adrian Wickham's National Fisheries Development company although foreign owned now has a Solomon Islander as one of its chief engineers and another captains a purse seiner.

ADRIAN WICKHAM: On all our boats we have only 90 per cent Solomon Islanders whereas if you were to sample the foreign fleet that's fishing in all our waters throughout the Pacific here you'll find it probably the other way around, 90 per cent expatriates and just a handful of Pacific Islanders.

So yeah we're very proud of our achievements in that regard.

Background on Tri Marine

Tri Marine is a tuna supply company with focus on supply of tuna and tuna products to the leading brands of tuna. It has offices in 14 countries and processing activities in plants located strategically around the world. Its tuna purse seiners operate in the Western Pacific and the Eastern Tropical Pacific. Tri Marine was formed in Singapore in 1972. Since then the company has grown to be one of the largest tuna supply companies in the world. Tri Marine is privately owned.