By Colin Packham
FUNAFUTI, Tuvalu (Reuters) – The brother of Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga had to be dragged from the ocean early on Thursday and taken to hospital after getting into difficulty during a demonstration of traditional fishing at a Pacific leaders summit.
Sopoaga, a keen fisherman, had invited delegations he is hosting at this week’s Pacific Islands Forum and media to join the demonstration shortly after sunrise at a beach near the capital, Funafuti.
There were around three dozen people watching the demonstration, including Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister Soroi Eoe and wives of some of the Pacific leaders.
“He is fine. He is at the local hospital at bring looked after,” the Tuvalu prime minister told Reuters when asked about his brother’s condition.
For the demonstration, about a dozen men had entered the water to scout for fish, which would be corralled by a chain of the men before being netted.
After just a few minutes, the alarm was raised after a man failed to surface after diving to look for fish about 50 metres (160 feet) from shore.
Others quickly swam to help before he was dragged onto a boat belonging to Sopoaga. The man regained consciousness before he was transported to the capital’s hospital.
The incident came on the penultimate day of the forum, where regional leaders are debating future policies governing everything from climate change to fishing management.
Many Pacific islands are pressing for the region to embrace limiting global temperature rises to no more than 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by John Mair and Sam Holmes)