PNG breaks away from Pacifical

ONE of the pioneers behind the establishment of a commercial partnership between the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) and the Dutch tuna marketing company Pacifical is suggesting that PNA divorce itself from the marriage.

This comes in light of the recent breakaway by one of PNA’s bigger members Papua New Guinea, who has cut ties with Pacifical to pursue the coveted Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) eco-certification on its own.

Dr Transform Aqorau, former CEO of PNA and now CEO of iTuna Intel, said times have changed and now might be the time for PNA to rethink this partnership, which he had helped forge on behalf of PNA in 2011 with the Dutch tuna distribution company, Sustunable.

It’s a partnership that has helped propel PNA-fished and processed skipjack and yellow fin tuna into the international markets – Europe especially.

“Pacifical was an idea ahead of its time. It was and still is a brilliant idea, telling the narrative of a fish with a story from the pristine waters of the Pacific islands and the cultures of the Pacific islanders,” Aqorau told IB. “I don’t think at the time, we envisaged that other companies with whom PNA member countries do business with would be interested in having their own MSC. PNA led the way and Pacifical was a narrow tunnel through which PNA MSC tuna was marketed. There are now more companies who have their own MSC so there is competition for Pacifical, and indeed these companies are based in the PNA countries or have license to fish in the PNA countries so that might mean the supplies to Pacifical will decline. Competition is good for business but PNA is now in competition with businesses and companies that are based in the PNA, so all I’m saying is perhaps PNA might think about getting out of the business,” Aqorau said. In August, PNG’s tuna industry, represented by the Fishing Industry Association of Papua New Guinea (FIA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with PNG’s National Fisheries Authority to pursue its own MSC certification. The aim, according to FIA, is to get its licensed purse seine fleet – fishing skipjack and yellow fin tuna on anchored fish aggregation devices (FADs), drifting FADs and free schools in both its EEZ and archipelagic waters – certified to the MSC standards.

The decision however turned into a public war of words between two major industry online media outlets Undercurrent News (UCN) and Atuna with Pacifical in the thick of it. Last month, UCN reported that the underlying reason PNG was breaking away was because of Pacifical’s lack of transparency with its accounts and financial operations and reporting.

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