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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Aug. 22) – Associations representing French Polynesia’s commercial fishermen and wholesalers have come out against the Temaru government’s proposed tuna fish breeding farm on the Tuamotu atoll of Hao.

The owners of ocean-going commercial fishing boats say the project’s estimated cost of between 1.5 billion to 1.9 billion French Pacific franc (US$15.8 million to US$20 million) represents a serious financial risk.

The association noted that French Polynesia’s commercial fishing industry has suffered financially since the end of 2002 as the yearly catch dropped from a record 7,811 tons in 2001 to slightly more than 5,000 tons in 2004.

"We are joining forces in opposition to the government’s decision to finance the Haopa Project," said Georges Moarii, head of the shipowners’ association.

He was referring to the Hao Fishing and Aquaculture project destined for Hao, whose officials have been searching for an economic replacement for the former French military base operations that existed during France’s nuclear testing campaign on the Tuamotu atolls of Moruroa and Fangataufa from the late 1960s to 1996.

"We’re a little astonished by this decision because besides that there is a complete inertia when it comes to resolving the crisis we’re undergoing," Moarii said.

That "crisis" involves a shortage of fish, particularly tuna, in French Polynesia waters, and a threat of higher costs for fuel for the fishing fleet.

The proposed project would involve breeding yellowfin tuna, which never has been produced in breeding farms anywhere else, Moarii said. And, he added, the yellowfin tuna does not have the same market value as the bluefin tuna, which sells for a price three times more expensive.

French Polynesia President Oscar Temaru recently visited tuna breeding farms in Japan, accompanied by a delegation that included Hao Mayor Temauri Foster.

August 23, 2005

Tahitipresse: http://www.tahitipresse.pf/index.cfm?lang=2

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