Tuna Market Intelligence - Issue 19
Issue 19, July 18, 2015
Your fortnightly report on trends and influencers on the global tuna market from the Pacific Islands.
As Bangkok's tuna market records a steady increase in prices Parties to Nauru Agreement (PNA) said the region still has to weather the effect of the opening of the eastern high seas which was opened to fishing last year in June with fishing activity beginning in July last year.
PNA Chief Executive Officer Dr Transform Aqorau said whilst supply levels were being controlled by a reduction of fishing and as a result prices were increasing in the Bangkok Tuna market, the effect of the opening of the eastern high seas was yet to be realized: "If vessels continue to fish in those areas then we will continue to see over supply of tuna. The full effect of it will not be known until data is available from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community - as the eastern high seas is an uncontrolled ocean.”
At the same time, skipjack tuna prices in Ecuador have also increased by $300 per metric ton from May, ahead of the upcoming 62-day fishing closure. Ecuador exported tuna at $1,150/t-$1,200/t last week and it looks like the price may climb to as high as 1,250/t.
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Fisheries revenue up, but businesses yet to benefit
Majuro businesses say they are not seeing a significant increase in business despite this year’s surge in the number of fishing vessels using Majuro as a transshipment port.
Marshalls Energy Company General Manager David Paul said the locally-based fleet, such as vessels with Koo’s Fishing Company, Pan Pacific Foods tuna loining plant, and the Marshall Islands Fishing Venture longline operation, regularly buy fuel from the utility company. But purse seiners from other countries get their fuel elsewhere, often from tankers on the high seas where prices are lower because they are not paying taxes and fees to island countries.
Grocery stores on Majuro see some retail traffic from the many fishermen who are in port, but one retail executive described this as very small purchases, mostly for snacks and drinks. “I see all the boats in the lagoon, but as far as sales go, the fishermen don’t buy a lot,” said K&K Island Pride General Manager Eli Maravilla.
Since meeting with Parties to the Nauru Agreement officials in late April, the World Purse-seine Tuna Organization agreed to implement a 10-day mandatory port call for all purse seiners in an effort to reduce the over-supply of tuna on the world market.
The Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority receives transshipment fees from the vessels using Majuro. Its most recent financial data shows that the stepped up transshipment operation using Majuro’s lagoon generated over a 50 percent increase in revenue to the Authority from 2012 to 2013, from US $272,500 to US$413,000. Transshipment revenue is expected to have similarly increased last year from the upsurge in use of Port Majuro by the purse seine fleet.
Asked at a late June Public Accounts Committee oversight hearing if Majuro was now the busiest tuna transshipment port in the western Pacific, Fisheries Director Glen Joseph said, “Yes, that is the general perception of Majuro.”
PNG on yellow card
The National Fisheries Authority (NFA) has been praised for its efforts in dealing with the “yellow flag” issued to Papua New Guinea by the European Union.
Trade, Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru said the European Union’s (EU) response to efforts made by the Government through NFA to deal with illegal fishing was positive.
“I think EU is very impressed with the work and measures we have taken to address all the issues that they have raised and the indications are that if we continue on the current part of compliance, I think they will withdraw the yellow flag before the end of the year,” Marusaid following his return from a two-week trade and investment mission to Europe.
“It will mean that Papua New Guinea is complying and that EU is very, very happy with us especially in the area of illegal fishing.We (Papua New Guinea) are working very hard, through NFA, to make sure that the Europeans are happy.”
Brace for tuna revenue declines: Dr Aqorau
While enjoying the benefits of the current surge in fisheries revenue, PNA member countries need to prepare for future downturns in revenue to avoid shocks to government finances and services dependent on this new source of funds, said Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) CEO Dr Transform Aqorau.
“We can’t be complacent about the income we’re receiving now,” said Dr Transform Aqorau in Majuro this week. “One bad year of fishing will have a huge negative impact on our economies.”
The eight PNA member countries have seen revenue increase five times since 2010, going from $64 million to an estimated $350 million this year.
Climate and other environmental factors, an over-abundance of tuna stock depressing prices, or market forces out of the PNA’s control can all impact fishing in the western and central Pacific. Fishing tuna heavily every year will have an impact on the fishery, Dr. Aqorau said.
Palau Minister on EEZ closure
Palau was allowed to trade its fishing days after it changed its proposal to the latest Parties to Nauru Agreement Ministerial meeting from a total closure of purse seine fishing to a 20 per cent opening of fishing.
Palau Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism Sengebau said there was no question about their sovereignty and PNA nations supported their intent to close its EEZ.But PNA as a groupexpressed reservations at the meeting about a full closure, sayingif Palau were to close all of its EEZ to purse seine fishing then it should not be allowed to trade its days under the PNA Vessel Day Scheme.
Minister Sengebausaid to satisfy this Palau will keep open 20% percent of itsEEZ for purse seine fishing, but only for free school fishing and restricting the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD).
Dr Aqorau said PNA awaits the details of the new arrangements.
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