Tuna Market Intelligence - Issue 17

Issue 17, June 16, 2015

Your fortnightly report on trends and influencers on the global tuna market from the Pacific Islands. PDF version is available here: http://www.pnatuna.com/sites/default/files/marketintel17.pdf


World market prices of skipjack are continuing an upward movement, tuna market insiders report.

As of this week, skipjack prices had bumped to US$1,150 a tonne, and Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) officials say several developments have combined for the improved price.

In late April, officials from the World Tuna Purse-seine Organization (WTPO) met with PNA representatives in Majuro to address the ongoing depressed price of skipjack. A result of the meeting was agreement to extend port visits of the several hundred purse seiners fishing in the western and central Pacific to slow the supply of tuna to market. “Instead of the usual quick turnaround after transshipping tuna in port, all vessels are spending 10 days in port now,” said Maurice Brownjohn, PNA’s Commercial Manager.

The three-month annual moratorium on use of Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs) begins July 1, which increases uncertainty of catches through September, since most skipjack is caught on FADs. Questions of fishing days availability to the U.S.-flagged fleet is also a factor creating uncertainty. 

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FAD charge for trial

The Parties to Nauru Agreement (PNA) has passed an initiative to trial a charge of $1000 on nets set on Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD) in PNA waters.

In what was dubbed the 'free school initiative' Ministers at the annual PNA ministerial meeting in Federated States of Micronesia's capital Palikir, decided that a $1000 fee paid on top of the Vessel Day Scheme fee would be good incentive 'not to set nets on FADs'.

PNA Chief Executive Officer Dr Transform Aqorau said once again the Ministers and officials of the PNA member nations have shown great wisdom and resolve to come up with not only a global first but a first in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), in fisheries management and sustainability: "From January 2016 next year PNA member nations across the board will try out the new initiative to levy a fee of $1000 on each ship that sets nets on FADs in a fishing day."


EU a 'global fisheries Cop'

The European Union has been described as a self appointed 'global fisheries policemen' for giving out yellow cards to a number of fisheries in the Parties to Nauru Agreement.

Tuvalu's Fisheries Minister Pita Elisala made the comment at the PNA annual ministers meeting in Pohnpei last week. He said the EU was using its market power to protect its own interests and threaten those of the small island developing states that it pretends to assist and support:"So far the EU has used the IUU regulation to issue ‘yellow cards’ to PNG, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, as well as Fiji and Vanuatu in the past."

He added that the EU had has also threatened to issue yellow cards to all PNA countries if they do not agree to their requirements for data access by Distant Water Fishing Nation (DWFN) fishery agencies. In addition, the EU continues to use trade negotiations with the Pacific Islands region as a vehicle for pushing its demands for fishery access and changes in fishery management arrangements. Elisala countered: "Tuvalu’s position is that we do not support a trade agreement that includes fishery management provisions. But we recognise that other PNA countries have more to lose than we do, and may be forced into unfavourable arrangements."


VDS benchmark remains the same

The Parties to Nauru Agreement Ministerial meeting has agreed to maintain the benchmark for Vessel Day Scheme days at US$8000 per day.

The VDS is the centerpiece of the PNA's management of its skipjack tuna fishery and has been responsible for increasing revenue flowing to the eight PNA members — from US$64 million in 2010 to an estimated US$357 million this year.

Dr Aqorau said a survey PNA commissioned found that the top 100 vessels studied would be paying an average rent of US$14,734 per day. "This tells us that we need to focus on the more efficient vessels if we want to gain the maximum leverage for this exercise and this is where scarcity [of tuna supply] comes in," he said.

Ministers also set the Total Allowable Effort for 2015 of 46,610 VDS days, and 45,881 VDS days for 2016.


Tuvalu refuses to sell days to uncooperative nations

The outgoing Chairman of the Parties to Nauru Agreement (PNA) Ministerial meeting and Tuvalu's Fisheries Minister Pita Elisala said his nation has refused to sell fishing days to nations that have blocked their initiatives to develop and sustain their own fishery.

His strong worded statement set the stage for an interesting PNA ministerial meeting at Palikir in Pohnpei.

Elisala said they were concerned with the way these nations had treated them in the past but they had refused to sell them fishing days.

"Tuvalu has already started this process, by declining to sell fishing days to certain nations and fleets in 2015," he told the PNA ministerial meeting.

"Tuvalu is a small player in the PNA, and this move on its own is not likely to have much impact on the DWFN fleets concerned. It is also a dangerous game, as it threatens broader international relationships, including aid flows.”

"However we feel that DWFN need to be shown that we will not always submit to their threatening, bullying or blocking tactics, and we hope that other countries will begin to collectively use the strong bargaining power that PNA can exercise as a coherent group."


Palau clarifies position

A clarification from the PNA Ministerial meeting in Pohnpei this week was provided by Palau on its initial proposal to close 100 per cent of its fishery to commercial fishing.

Palau's Fisheries Minister Ulrich Sengebau has clarified that 20 percent of its fishery would be opened to longline and purse seine fishing.

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Tuna Market Intelligence is an independent publication, sponsored by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) to unearth industry and market information from Pacific Island reporters and analysts. Reprint in the media from the PNA countries is free. All other reprints must be authorized. Contact us on marketintel@pnatuna.com or see more on



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