Rosemarie has Dutch parents and grew up in Tasmania. After she met her big love Eddie-Palu, a rugged fisherman from Tonga, she settled in “Nuku’Alofa Tonga” in the South Pacific. I meet her at their fishing company and receive a tour while she speaks about deep sea fishing, Tuna and improving sustainability in fishing.
“I am the only foreigner here”
Tonga is the last Polynesian kingdom and is located about 2000 kilometer north of New Zealand. I meet Rosemarie in her office as she explains: “Eddie and I manage a relatively small fishing company in Tonga. We have three deep sea fishing boats which return once a week to offload. It is a company by and for Tongans and I am, as Dutch-Asutralian, the only Palangi (foreigner) in our business. I do the administration and executive management.
From catch to Sushi
“Our boats are longliners; boats with a long line with hundreds of baited hooks attached. We mostly catch Tuna but also Mahi Mahi, Marlin, Swordfish and other species. Our boats return evert week so the fish remains fresh. Once in port the fish is graded. Our grade master makes an incision above the tail and looks at color and substance of the meat. Also the fat content is measured. The same day the Tuna and Mahi Mahi are shipped by plane. The best Tuna, the A and A+, go to Japan and the U.S. for the Sushi market.
Improving sustainability in fishing
Longliners worldwide have a bad name for bycatch in the form of seaturtles and albatrosses. I ask Rosemarie and she explains: “There are relatively few longliners in Tongan waters. We ourselves voluntarily choose for Australian norms in order to limit bycatch as much as possible. We use special round hooks and weighted baits to prevent albatros and seaturtle catch. Moreover we return with all fish. Some longliners throw back other fish than their target fish or cut of the fins and throw sharks back in the sea. We don’t, we land all the fish so nothing goes to waist. In Tonga everything is used and fish remains for example make good pig food.
We receive a tour in the factory and on board of the fishing boats and are pleasantly surprised bu the openness and warm reception. We make pictures, talk with the fishermen and witness the process of offloading, grading and processing. On board of the fishing boats we see the measures which Rosemarie told about. And this is important because action is lacking in the longline sector. Only a fixed set of rules and permanent enforcement can create a level playing field for all fishermen. Untill then efforts towards sustainable fishing depend on companies like Rosemarie’s which choose voluntarily for implementing measures.
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