Tuvalu PM's brother in near-drowning

Rebecca Gredley
A brother of Tuvalu's Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga nearly drowned during the Pacific Islands Forum

A brother of Tuvalu's prime minister Enele Sopoaga has nearly drowned in a fishing event on the sidelines of the Pacific Islands Forum.

The start of a tense day of negotiations over climate change took a dramatic turn when Mr Sopoaga's brother got into difficulty and was dragged unconscious from the ocean during the traditional fishing event on Thursday.

The event, put on for the partners of visiting leaders, became serious when the prime minister's brother began to struggle in the water.

Younger Tuvaluans taking part swam to his side when it became apparent he was in trouble about 50 metres from the shore.

He was unconscious as first aid was administered, together with an oxygen machine, before he was taken from the beach on a stretcher.

AAP understands he is recovering well after the early morning incident during high tide.

Traditional fishing essentially involves herding fish, with people swimming in a line perpendicular to the shoreline.

The swimmers eventually create a circle close to the shore, ready to net and spear fish swimming in the middle.

Mr Sopoaga also has an older brother, Saufata, who led the country from 2002 to 2004.