Feb 16, 2019 Last Updated 3:40 AM, Feb 8, 2019

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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Green fleet

WITH the growing number of tour operators and tourism logistics companies, every passenger moved makes a difference. And sometimes the business edge comes not only in volume of traffic but by the ability to move more passengers at a fraction of the cost of the competitor.

More travelers are becoming aware of the carbon footprint they create by flying from one end of the globe to another. In this age of climate responsibility, anything a traveler can do to mitigate against climate change and global warming is a plus. Fiji-based tour company. Pacific Destinations, recently added two brand new Toyota RAV 4 Hybrid to its fleet as part of the company’s strategy to minimise its carbon footprint.

The company is looking at adding at least two more vehicles before the end of the 2017 and more during 2018. “Two vehicles may be a small number but it is a start towards their work, keeping Fiji clean and they will be adding more RAV 4 Hybrids in the coming months,” Managing Director, James Sowane explained to Island Business.

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$40m biscuit factory

From humble beginnings, FMF Foods expands

WHAT started as a flour mill in 1973, which imported premium Australian wheat and milled flour, has now become a household brand across the Pacific, venturing into other businesses, biscuits in particular. Well-known for its quality products, the company changed its name from Flour Mills of Fiji, which the FMF originated from.

With a vast range of food products, it was only appropriate to reflect this in the company name which changed to FMF Foods Limited in 2011. While the name of the company and its profile may have changed over the years, its original commitment towards customers remains unchanged, if only stronger.

This is evident in the construction of the $40million FMF Foods Ltd biscuit factory, along the Queens highway in Veisari. This investment is set to inject thousands of dollars into the economy, employ 120 directly and an equally number indirectly engaged, benefiting around 250 families when the factory is in full operation. According to the FMF Group of Companies managing director Ram Bajekal, the new biscuit factory had been constructed to manufacture biscuits largely meant for the Melanesian market.

“The need for a new factory was felt when the company realised that the existing factory at Walu Bay was not sufficient to meet the entire needs of their market,” Mr Bajekal said. Biscuit brand Raun Raun will be manufactured in the newly constructed factory alongside other brands.

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IN the aftermath of the military coups of 1987, the then interim government created a tax free zone in Kalabu, Nasinu, which helped Nasinu to grow and bridge the development between Nausori to Suva City. Suva-Nausori continues to grow tremendously.

 The same, however, cannot be said between Wainadoi and Pacific Harbour. The region has land and labour. There is a need to develop the necessary infrastructure to attract investors to create jobs and add value to the local economy specifically and national economy generally.

With the Suva to Nausori corridor now almost full, the only other way the development from the capital city can move is towards the West. Ratu Suliano Matanitobua, a member of the Opposition, pleaded in Parliament, to declare this region a ‘tax free zone’, in the hope to improve infrastructure and connectivity, an ambitious project reflecting the desires of the people of this region.

A paramount chief in this area, Matanitobua said he had witnessed every opportunity and plans to develop Serua and Namosi. Located 17km to 60 km west of Suva City on the Southern Coast of Viti Levu, the total region covers the provinces of Serua and Namosi and a part of Rewa province known as Beqa, with a total population close to 35,000 people, 66 per cent iTaukei, four per cent minority communities and 30 per cent Fijians of Indian descent.

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City within a city

Entertainment company expands its boundaries

THINK cinema in Fiji and instantly, the name ‘Damodar’ comes to mind. For decades, the Damodar Brothers (Films) Limited has been the prime entertainment business in Fiji – but as of late, they are also one of the biggest property developers in the country.

From successfully birthing the $30million Damodar City complex, which has now become a reference point of sorts for property developers, the group is now working on its recently-acquired 21-acre land along Grantham Road in Raiwaqa .

Damodar Group chief executive Div Damodar sat with Islands Business to chat about its recent development plans in Labasa, hotel and retail plans in Suva and its trickling positive effect of the economy. “I guess with Damodar City, it was quite natural that we have to grow from there, that whole street a(Vatuwaqa) is now expanded and become the new center for leisure entertainment for Fiji I would say,” explained Damodar.

“Then we looked at the land which is down road, 4-minute walking distance, which is a 21-acre site, where we are looking to do hotel and retail development,” he said.

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