Other forms of fishing considered to be industrial in scale have occurred at various times in the
Pacific Islands. Although large vessels have sometimes been used in this activity, the fact that much
of it has taken place inside the reef stretches the working definition of "industrial fishing" used in
this paper. This large-scale activity has included:
Spearfishing: This fishery is generally thought of as small-scale, but several rather
large-scale operations have been noted in the region, including activity in the northern
Marianas, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Tonga. Typical is the case of the Wellbeing
No. 3, which was operating in Fiji in late 2005. The 200 GRT vessel carried 15 divers
and on a recent two-week trip to the islands to the east of Fiji returned to Suva with
16 tonnes of fish. The vessel is reportedly owned and operated by a Korean company.
That company has a second vessel under repair in Fiji and another operating in the
Solomon Islands. According to divers aboard the Wellbeing No. 3, sometimes (but not
always) the spearfishing is done in conjunction with villagers.
Lobster fishing: Pacific Island spiny lobsters have been a magnet for New Zealand and
Australian fishermen for years. Fisheries officers in most Pacific Island countries have
at least one story to tell about a failed Antipodean lobster-fishing or exporting venture.
Many of these ventures use large vessels (some up to 350 GRT) and they all fail, some
spectacularly. The issue of why Australians and New Zealanders continue to throw
themselves, lemming-like, into Pacific Island lobster ventures is discussed by Adams and
Dalzell (1993). They show many reasons why a large-scale operation is not viable and
end with a plea for Pacific rim lobster fishermen and Pacific Islanders alike to embark on
such joint ventures with their eyes open – only after some careful research.
Live fish collection: This activity is similar to spearfishing described above in that is
uses small-scale fishing techniques (usually hook/line fishing) but the catch is sometimes
transferred to a large carrier vessel for transport to East Asia. These carrier operations
started in the west of the Pacific Islands area (Palau, PNG) about 15 years ago and have
expanded their range eastward reaching as far as Fiji.
Illegal giant clam fishing: This reached its height in the 1970s and 1980s reaching as
far east as the Marshall Islands and Fiji. Using mainly old longline vessels from Taiwan
(Province of China), divers harvest giant clam muscle from mainly isolated reefs in the
east of the region. In recent decades this fishery has been much less active due to
declining abundance of giant clams together with increased surveillance capability of
Pacific Island countries.
Bottom fishing is an activity that is normally carried out in the Pacific Islands region
from vessels less than 15 m in length. Some exploration in larger vessels has been carried
out (e.g. in FSM and the Solomon Islands by the Japanese) and large commercial vessels
have operated in Fiji and Tonga, but those operations have not continued for very long.
The above large-scale activities are largely based on fishery resources that cannot sustain the fishing
pressure that industrial fishing usually entails. Such fishing operations have been sporadic at best,
but are likely to re-appear periodically in the future due to market demand.
Perhaps the most important lesson learned in the history of industrial fishing activity in the Pacific
Islands is that past sustainable operations have been mainly associated with the tuna resources.
Similarly, most industrial-scale opportunities for the foreseeable future are likely to be related to