FISHERIES Minister Ben Semri said no person or province in the country should lay claim to the tuna fish in the sea.
“No provincial government in any coastal area can lay claim to any fish.
“It belongs to the coastal states and countries of the region and the globe,” Mr Semri said this yesterday while responding to questions on the ownership of the fish resource.
He said once the fish were in the waters of any region or country anywhere in the world including PNG, they should be caught otherwise if the fish migrated, they would be caught in another part of the country or the world.
Mr Semri said two weeks ago, locals in New Ireland and Manus provinces claimed that “their tuna” was being caught.
“The people over there do not own the fish.
“Once the fish are present in our waters, we must catch them, if they are gone other people will catch them in other places.
“That is why, in the fishing industry, there cannot be an equation of equal participation and benefit sharing. “It is totally different,” he said, adding that the tuna’s migratory patterns also made it impossible for people to lay claim to it.
Director of Manila-based Inforfish International’s Dr S Subasinghe encouraged co-operation between countries, territories, and distant fishing partners of Pacific countries in order to benefit as much as possible from the tuna industry.
Deputy director-general of Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Dr Transform Aqorau said that essentially, people had sovereign rights over these resources.
“Because tuna migrates, there is a duty to co-operate with other countries – those that fish the stocks – to ensure management and conservation (is adhered to),” he said.
Director for Western Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) Andrew Write said co-operation in the Western Central Pacific was possible through the eight-member countries to the Nauru Agreement, the 15-member countries of FFA, and then most of the Pacific Island countries (PICs) are members to the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), and then there was the relationship PICs had with the distant coastal water-fishing nations.