Tuna Market Intelligence - Issue 20

Issue 20, July 31, 2015

Your fortnightly report on trends and influencers on the global tuna market from the Pacific Islands. To read pdf click here: http://www.pnatuna.com/sites/default/files/marketintel20.pdf


The world market price for skipjack tuna has risen by 40 percent since April, in part due to a slowdown in fishing effort by purse seine vessels.

As of late July, the price of skipjack at Bangkok had increased to US$1,350 per ton, a significant improvement over the price in April, of US$950 per ton.

In late April after meeting with Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) officials in Majuro, representatives of the World Purse seine Tuna Organization agreed to enforce a mandatory 10-day port stay for vessels after they off-load tuna catches.This has contributed to reducing the over-supply of skipjack on the world market, said PNA Commercial Manager Maurice Brownjohn.

Other factors contributing to the increased price include the start of the annual three-month moratorium on using fish aggregating devices (FADs) in PNA waters from July 1 through September 30, which reduces catches, and difficulty with orders to the United States caused by a recent dock strike.

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Micronesian heads seek PNA support for Palau

Heads of States of three Micronesian countries have sought the support of Parties to Nauru Agreement for Palau's proposed National Marine Sanctuary.

Presidents of Palau Tommy Remengesau, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Peter Christian, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Christopher Loeak attending the 15th Micronesian Presidents Summit in Majuro, RMI have written a letter asking other members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) to support Palau’s National Marine Sanctuary initiative.

“This will provide a significant contribution to global and regional critical conservation goals and is critical to the long term future of Palau’s dominant industry- tourism,” the letter states. The letter also asked the other PNA members to respect and endorse Palau’s move.

Palau had clarified in the last PNA Ministerial meeting in Pohnpei that they would only close 80 percent of their fishing whilst the other 20 percent would remain open.  Their Minister was asked to return with a more detailed plan of how they intended to impose the closure.

Fisheries officials head to Pohnpei

Fisheries officials in head to Federated States of Micronesia next month for the 11th session of the

Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission's Scientific Committee to discuss important issues like tuna stock status.  The outcomes of that meeting normally set the pace for the regular WCPFC meeting which will be held this year in Bali Indonesia.

Officials will also be keen on hearing the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's update on the status of bigeye tuna and other stocks that rake in millions of dollars for small Pacific Island nations.

PACPs hunt elusive EPA

Meanwhile, Pacific African Caribbean Pacific (PACP) Trade and Fisheries Ministers are once again taking a shot at the elusive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU to  access European tuna markets.

They expressed their wishes in their meeting on July 17 in Suva.  The PACP Ministers seek a comprehensive EPA which is development-oriented agreement and delivers benefits to all Members including flexible rules of origin to allow them to export fish steaks and fillets to the EU.

They also want additional financial resources thrown in to enable them to develop the productive capacity to address their trade and development challenges.

Whilst an iEPA works for Fiji and PNG with their canneries, the other PACP small island states do not have canneries so want a comprehensive EPA so their tuna products find their way to the European markets.


Industry to raise concerns as margins decrease

That's the word from the tuna industry from fishing companies when they engage with other stakeholders at various forums. With the upcoming Pacific Tuna Forum only a month away and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission coming up in December, industry stakeholders like World Tuna Purse-seiner Organization (WTPO) chairman Francisco Tiu Laurel were talking about margins.

Whilst the WTPO's 35 per cent cut in fishing effort for conservation measures implemented recently has influenced a steady rise in prices on the Bangkok tuna market, Laurel told Tuna Market Intelligence that margins are getting almost impossible:“I think the major issue going into the next tuna forum and the December WCPFC meeting would be Fish Aggregating Device matters and issues, the increasing cost of fishing days, and splitting the FAD closure instead of one continuous FAD closure for four months."

He added: "I would preferably split the FAD closure into two periods of two months."He said whilst FAD closure did not translate to direct losses in the industry, it made the the prices and trends very predictable to the end market for whole sale canned tuna.

Laurel said the increasing PNA Vessel Day Scheme prices was always a concern for fishermen, especially with low fish prices this year:"VDS prices are killing most of the fishing vessels in the Pacific as we are looking at increases from about US$3,000 per fishing day rising to as high as US$12,000 for some vessel days.”

NFA pays State handsome dividend

In Papua New Guinea, the National Fisheries Authority  continued to be a major money earner as it paid K25 million (US$11.7 million) in dividends to the National Government. Minister for Treasury Patrick Pruaitch received the cheque last week, Pacnews reports.

Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Mao Zeming said the NFA was pleased to pay the dividend to the government to support its national budget requirements.

“The dividends are surplus funds from statutory and access fees that the NFA collects from the fishing industry. In the last three years the NFA paid K60 million (US$28 million) in dividend to the government. This 2015 dividend brings to K85 million (US$39 million0 that the NFA has paid to the government since 2012.”

The fisheries contributes about 4% of total GDP. Zeming added that the contribution from fisheries to the economy is likely to increase: “With another cannery to be built in Lae this year, and the Marine Park in Madang proceeding as planned, we can expect thousands more jobs created and more opportunities for our people to get into spin off businesses these processing plants will create.”

Getting better returns from tuna

How can the communities in PNA member nations get a better return on commercial tuna fisheries? The issue of leveraging PNA engagement in the tuna industry beyond simply collecting PNA Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) and licensing fees is a key question being aired in the Marshall Islands.

PNA Commercial Manager Maurice Brownjohn speaking at a recent United Nations Development Program-sponsored sustainable development workshop in Majuro said the Marshall Islands government has fisheries resources that can be re-invested into this sector to generate more jobs, tax revenues, and income for the local economy.

In addition to the VDS fees, PNA has “also started to extract premiums at the retail end through brokerage, co-branding and vertical integration,” Brownjohn said. He added: “But there is only so much that can be done regionally by PNA. PNA members need to be proactive themselves to see more than just money (from the VDS).”

The Purse Seine VDSTAE usage at 26 July 2015

The effort in PNA countries EEZs is illustrated in the graph below, where the yellow line represents the constant monthly usage for staying within the Total Allowable Effort, and the red line shows the actual days used. As shown by the graph, at26 July, effort in the VDS participants’ zones totaledover24,000 days, up from just over 20,000 days at the start of the month. The rate of effort in July has been steadily increasing as is evident by the red line slowly moving towards the yellow one. See graph here: http://www.pnatuna.com/sites/default/files/marketintel20.pdf


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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Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA)
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MH 96960
Phone: +692 625 7626/7627
Fax: +692 625 7628

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