SUVA, June 14 (Xinhua) -- About 306,440 tons of fish were harvested illegally in the Pacific region with an estimated cost of 616.11 million U.S. dollars from 2010 to 2015, a Fijian government official said here Thursday.
While presenting the Ministry of Defence submission on the Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and unregulated Fishing, Fiji's Deputy Secretary of Defence Ilai Moceica said that this was stated by a report from the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (PIFFA).
Describing this as a huge loss for many Pacific Island Communities economy and for the many islanders who rely on the fisheries sector for their livelihood, he said that the ratification and accession of an agreement and its implementation will contribute to strengthen fisheries management and governance at all levels.
The illegal and unreported fishing is a maritime security challenge that needs to be addressed as it would not only have a direct impact on Fiji's blue economy but also it will impact the livelihood of coastal and maritime communities, he added.
Fiji has reduced revenue from fisheries, undermined investment and employment opportunities that threatened the sustainability of fish stocks.
Fiji and the Pacific were highly dependent on coastal fisheries resources. In Fiji, which has a population of over 880,000, more than half of its population depend on the ocean and fish as a source of income and livelihood.
The fishing industry exports up to 400 million Fijian dollars (about 199.7 million U.S. dollars) worth of fish products annually which contributes about 2.9 percent to Fiji's gross domestic product.