Experts urge better
managing of fisheries

The world fish supply has
dwindled by 90 percent,
officials warn

Unless countries change their management of the oceans, the world's fish supply will continue to shrink, several fishing experts said yesterday at an East-West Center conference.

Fishermen have been worried about the declining number of fish for about 50 years, said aquatic biologist William Walsh, of the state Aquatic Resources Division.

"Unless there's a change ... we'll be asking ourselves the same thing 50 years from now," Walsh said at the "Leadership Seminar for Pacific Island Fisheries Managers."

Center officials later hope to connect fisheries managers from Asian countries with those in the Pacific and the United States to discuss issues of stock depletion and how to become effective managers. The 10-day conference ends Friday.

Two marine scientists at Dalhousie University in Canada recently reported that commercial fishing has killed all but 10 percent of large fish, such as tuna, swordfish and marlin. The average weight of the remaining fish also has significantly dropped, said scientists Ransom Myers and Boris Worm, basing their findings on nearly 50 years of data.

"Unless there is a worldwide effort, the fisheries will continue to decline," said Ray Tulafono, director of the American Samoa's Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources.

Walsh said increased regulation and introduction of other species have not been effective.

"There is no way any kind of rules are going to have an effect in turning the tides," he said.

"The major difference between how Hawaiians managed fisheries to how we manage fisheries today is, Hawaiians managed for the benefit of the community," said William Aila, a Hawaii fisherman and vice president of the Hawaii Fisherman's Foundation. "The Western concept of fisheries management is so compartmentalized, so spread across so many agencies, that everybody can point to each other and go, 'It's not my problem, it's their problem.'"

Bernard Thoulag, executive director of the National Oceanic Resources Management Authority for the Federated States of Micronesia, said the islands continue to struggle with limited resources and a lack of advanced technology.

Thoulag and Tulafono said they hope to learn from other fishing experts at the conference to improve management in their islands.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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