Oct 22, 2017 Last Updated 8:27 AM, Oct 20, 2017

Tuna price-fixing probe

Veteran faces time behind bars

BUMBLE Bee Foods veteran Walter Scott Cameron will likely see a prison term of at least 10 months, pay a $USD25,000 fine and agree to testify in tuna price-fixing investigation, following a plea deal with prosecutors. The US Department of Justice has recommended Cameron’s sentence will fall under level 12 of federal guidelines, which could mean at least a 10-to-16-month prison term.

It will also include the $25,000 fine and a $100 special assessment although he will not be asked to pay victim’s restitution due to the ongoing civil lawsuits, the agreement states. Bumble Bee is the major buyer of tuna loins from the Pacific Fishing Corporation based at Levuka, Fiji. PAFCO describes its core business as “loining of tuna (round fish) for Bumble Bee.

The secondary component of PAFCOs operations are canning, fishmeal production, and fish oil extraction by a third party.” PAFCO signed a seven-year tuna loining processing agreement in 2002 with Bumble Bee Foods LLP, following the successful operation of the initial loin processing agreement with Bumble Bee from 1998. The agreement has since been extended twice, with the current extension valid until 2017.

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Red flag day

China pledges to cut fleet sizes

CHINA has pledged to reduce its fleet of medium- and large-sized vessels by 8300, and its total fishing fleet by 20,000 vessels. The move comes after the announcement of a raft of policies aimed at controlling over-fishing. Late last year China came under fire at a meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fishing Commission at Denarau, Fiji for its failure to limit the extent of its operations in the region.

Similar sentiments were expressed 12 months earlier at Bali, Indonesia and were also aimed at Taiwan, Japan and the European Union. Small Pacific states have long argued that Distant Fishing Water Nations – basically the large countries which fish in the Pacific – have not done enough to ensure sustainable fisheries.

This means that they are an existential threat to regional economies, livelihoods and lifestyles. The large nations have consistently refused to acknowledge this. But a Chinese government document published by the Fisheries Department of China’s Ministry of Agriculture said the most recent policy was in response to “extensive problems due to exploitation of fisheries resources”.

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FIJIAN diplomats are making good progress on negotiations with Tuvalu and Kiribati for access to valuable fishing grounds in the Northern Pacific. A proposed three-phase plan includes a Fiji-based-and-owned long line fleet to boost supply to Fijian canneries and create employment at home and throughout the region.

Fisheries Minister, Commander Semi Koroilavesau, confirmed he had held discussions with senior officials in Kiribati, Tuvalu and Wallis and Futuna.

“We want to follow the tuna on its migratory route for six months of the year,” Koroilavesau told Islands Business. “To do that Fiji will need access to the north – through Wallis, up to Tuvalu and Kiribati and we’ll also need access to the west near the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.” Koroilavesau has laid the groundwork through his personal contacts with senior fisheries officials in Tuvalu and Kiribati. But it will be for foreign affairs officials from the three countries to put together agreements acceptable to their political masters.

It is understood that the Solomon Islands has been reluctant to allow access to Fiji-flagged long liners as it wants to protect supply to its cannery at Noro on New Georgia.

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Fishing boom

Industry sees huge last quarter

DESPITE industry complaints that fishing has been on the wane, the Parties to the Nauru Agreement Office reported that effort in PNA waters in the last quarter of 2016 was the highest quarterly achievement in 30 months. Operators used 3586 days in the final quarter of 2016, up from 2014’s last quarter of 3292. Effort is the number of tonnes or number of actual fish caught over a day. Taking a longer view, effort (fishing) has reduced since 2011 when the last quarter days were around 1000 metric tonnes more, standing at 4516.

However, there was no change to the industry practice of the importance of the last quarter, with most days used over the past six years generally occurring in this end-year rush. Meanwhile, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Secretariat reported that Taiwan, China and the US had all notified the WCPFC they had reached 90 per cent of their catch limit for 2016. Under the 2015 Conservation and Management Measure, fishing nations are upposed to update the Commission monthly of their catch...

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GROWING global market demand for MSC-certified tuna and fishing industry interest is expected to see “wild catch” tuna tonnage double from the waters of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement in 2017. The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) operates a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified free school caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna fishery in the western and central Pacific fishing zones of its member nations.

In 2016, tuna fishing fleets complying with strict chain of custody rules that met MSC certification requirements delivered over 55,000 metric tons of sustainably caught free school tuna to market, said PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru. “We expect the volume to double to about 100,000 metric tons in 2017 based upon existing orders,” he said. “With strong fishing industry buy-in for PNA’s MSC-certified fishery, we see the market for sustainably caught tuna continuing to grow.

This benefits everyone — the fisheries industry, retailers, and PNA members. Most importantly, catching tuna without using fish aggregating devices (FADs) means tuna are being fished sustainably.”

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