Mar 08, 2021 Last Updated 9:51 PM, Mar 7, 2021

Set to become world’s second largest tuna processing project in the world, a new plant in opened its doors to 4000 workers in Papua New Guinea’s fast-expanding industrial town. As export demand grows from Europe and production peaks at the multi-million kina new plant, it will have the capacity to house 7,000 employees—making it one of the biggest employers in the region. But Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s optimism for an economic boom emanating from the plant goes beyond just jobs—economic benefits spreading across PNG’s second most populous city. A new international airport terminal, refurbishing port and upgrading of road infrastructure are among hallmark changes O’Neill announced for Lae. The Majestic Seafoods operation is a product of a consortium involving Thai Union, Bangkokbased world’s biggest fish processor; Taihyo of Thailand; Century Canning Corporation of Philippines; and Frabellie (PNG) Ltd. PNG’s biggest trumpcard would be the preferential trade access into Europe, a market of 500 million consumers through Economic Partnership Agreement.

Lucrative Europe markets “That allows duty free access of all Papua New Guinea goods to the European market,” said Martin Dihm, European Ambassador to PNG. “It is the most lucrative market in the world.” Thai Union, which manages the world’s largest tuna processing plant in Bangkok, moved to Lae with high investment hopes after eyeing enormous fisheries potential in PNG. “The fact that Thai investment comes here, I think it is a very good sign because it means it is better to produce here, to create jobs here than in Bangkok,” said Dihm. There was also a word of caution in Dihm’s overwhelming response—the need to maintain environmental and other international hygiene standards in PNG. read more buy your personal copy at

It will ensure steady income for future

A decade ago, Gregory Stone and a group of coral reef ecologists suggested to Kiribati’s leadership that the long-ignored Phoenix Islands were a treasure that could bring the country prestige and tourism as a world-class marine protected area. But President Anote Tong said closing it to commercial tuna fishing would cost Kiribati millions of dollars that would have to be compensated by creating a trust fund.

Stone, today the senior vice president and chief scientist for oceans of one of the world’s biggest conservation organisations, Conservation International (CI), went along. But negotiations on the level of compensation dragged on and are still dragging on, with no agreement in sight. “We’re still deciding what the compensation level should be,” Tong said in a recent interview in Tarawa.

So far, fishing is banned only in the parts around the islands where no fishing was taking place anyway, a total of three percent of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), as the management plan available at details. The size of California, the reserve wraps around Kiribati’s central archipelago. In the rest of it and in the rest of Kiribati’s Exclusive Economic Zone, fishing has intensified as global warming push skipjack tuna east and prices soar. Last year, approximately 50,000 tons were fished inside the reserve, according to calculations based on official fishing data.

In the interview, Tong explained why the negotiations had failed: he believes Kiribati should be compensated even more than previously agreed. “Even if the return has increased from fishing (licences),” he said, “it’s a lot more than it would have been if PIPA had been closed to all fishing. So there is that lost opportunity cost.” He brushed aside any notion that it would be hard to raise donations to help Kiribati conserve its tuna when the country’s income from fisheries had doubled in a year. read more buy your personal copy at

Ban commercial fishing: Palau

Palau is aiming to become the first Pacific nation to ban commercial fishing in its 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). And in another unprecedented move, it will conduct a trial next month using drones for fisheries enforcement. Soon after taking office for his third tour-year term, President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. announced his plan to ban commercial fishing and establish a working group to review the plan. His announcement caused a stir in the fisheries and business world in large part because it is unprecedented in a region where most countries depend heavily on revenue from foreign fishing nations. Remengesau’s long-term focus on environment, dating back to his first two terms in office from 2000-2008, underscores his belief that Palau’s resources are of value beyond dollar signs.

While it won’t be known until 2014 if the plan for what Remengesau describes as a “total marine sanctuary” will go into effect, it is drawing support from conservationists. Noah Idechong, founder of Palau Conservation Society and a former Speaker of the Palau National Congress, is on Remengesau’s working group reviewing the proposal. “We have to do these things (for a sustainable future),” Idechong said at the end of May on a visit to Majuro where Palau, Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia officials met to discuss expansion of marine conservation management efforts in the north Pacific. “We don’t want the world to dictate to us.

We have to think for ourselves.” Remengesau is blunt about his plan for a total marine sanctuary: “It is in our best interests to do this. It is for the long-term sustainability of Palau and our contribution to the region—no commercial fishing.” Remengesau believes there is momentum to make commercial fishing ban happen next year. “We’re looking at it from all angles and the early review say it can work.” And Remengesau’s ratcheting up enforcement with the rollout of airborne drones, like those being used by the US Government in the war in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The first test of the drones will be conducted in August in Palau by an Australian company, Remengesau said. read more buy your personal copy at

Business initiative to command premium price

A three-year effort by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) is expected to see the region’s first “certified sustainably caught” skipjack tuna products hitting the Europe markets this month. The latest PNA milestone links a conservation measure—promoting tuna caught without the use of fish aggregation devices (FADs)—to a business initiative that is expected to command a premium price in European and United States markets. Marine Stewardship Council-labeled skipjack tuna coming from waters of the eight-member PNA countries is ready to supply the global markets for sustainably harvested canned tuna, said PNA Commercial Manager Maurice Brownjohn. “Within weeks the first skipjack will be landed to end up in cans with the MSC logo and the PNA co-brand Pacifical,” said Brownjohn in early May. These will go on sale in Europe. Over the past three years, PNA has jumped numerous challenges, including strong objections from United States-based environmental groups with tuna industry ties to gain MSC “chain of custody” certification for the catch, processing and supply of free school (no FADs) skipjack tuna. Tuna caught without the use of FADs is considered to be a sustainable. At the late April European Tuna conference in Brussels, Brownjohn promoted the MSC certified tuna, saying this is a world first for the skipjack tuna industry. This brings a new dimension in consumer information about tuna to the global fish trade, said Brownjohn, who is based in Majuro at the PNA office. Under the MSC Chain of Custody scheme, consumers can see where and how their tuna was caught—from the boat to their plate. read more buy your personal copy at


Negotiators hope to finalise deal end 2013

Pacific Islands Parties (PIPs) have secured a transitional deal which will see 40 United States fishing vessels fishing in the Pacific for 12,450 days for US$94.5 million in the next 18 months. The transistional arrangement was struck last month at a session in Honiara after negotiatiors were unable to complete the new agreement. Instead, they settled for an 18-month transitional arrangement that will implement the new, tripled access fees and the agreed-to measures through to December 2014. This will extend current negotiations, which are locked into the finer issues of national laws which PIPs are trying to ease into a successor agreement. However, the Parties to the Nauru Agreement Secretariat director Dr Transform Aqorau said the deal was not an ideal outcome because parties are now left with fewer days, which they can use to maximise their revenue. “The real worry will be: Can the parties still operate inside the limits when the fishery is increasingly over-subscribed,” Aqorau said. “We really have to look hard to work to the limits and not sell to all parties, irrespective of the limits set. The cake is now considerably smaller.” Aqorau has been an advocate of rights-based fisheries where nations dictate their own terms in which people fish in their waters. read more buy your personal copy at

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.