Papua New Guinea Government and corporate partner RD Corporation will start talks on a fish cannery which is expected to generate about K1.2 billion (US$335 million) in annual revenue, says Prime Minister James Marape.
Marape was at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Government and RD Corporation, the major shareholder of its subsidiary company RD Tuna canners in Madang.
“This is an initiative the Government is taking to go into domesticating the fisheries industry in PNG,” said Marape.
“RD Corporation, through RD Tuna, has been in the country for 27 years.
“From its humble beginnings in 1997, RD Tuna has created about 5,000 jobs for Papua New Guineans.”
“This (joint venture) will secure PNG’s economy forever.
“The country’s fisheries industry is much bigger than the Porgera gold mine, Wafi Golpu project, or PNG LNG project.
“The fishery industry currently employs 16,000.
“Very soon, I want to put on notice all fishing companies operating in our waters (that) all catches will be brought onshore.
“No (more) high seas fish transfer,” adds Marape.
Fisheries Minister Jelta Wong supported the Government’s drive to domesticate the fisheries industry through a public-private joint venture partnership that would see an estimated K25 million cannery set up in Madang.
According to International Trade and Investment Minister Richard Maru, the proposed cannery would drive the Pacific Maritime Industrial Zone (PMIZ) Special Economic Zone project.
“That’s expected to see Madang benefit through labour opportunities for locals in the districts, the use of PNG vessels and crew for fishing in PNG waters,” Maru said.
RD Corporation is willing to develop through its expertise in the fisheries industry. “Our subsidiary in Madang would act as the processing factory in the initial stages of development, through our market exposure in the greater Asia market and our expertise in the fisheries sector, we believe PNG has some of the best tuna supplies in the world, and through this partnership the country could be able to supply 60 per cent of the world’s fish,” said Toy Rivera, RD Corporation chairman.
PNG Opposition queries fisheries deal
Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea Opposition Leader Joseph Lelang has questioned the joint venture plan the Government has with the Philippines RD Fishing Group.
In a statement, Lelang wanted the assets and liabilities of the company made public.
He said the RD Tuna Cannery had been operating in Papua New Guinea for nearly three decades and did not require the Government to bail it out of any problems.
“They have recovered their full initial investment costs, so what is there to gain from this arrangement except to provide public monies to subsidise this company’s operations?” he asked.
“The Government should focus on growing new investment projects, the infrastructure and secure the site and construct new tuna canning factory.”
He questioned the joint venture with the RD Fishing Group, which in recent times had laid off workers.