Tuna Market Intelligence - Issue 22

Issue 22, September 1, 2015

Your fortnightly report on trends and influencers on the global tuna market from the Pacific Islands. To read PDF version click here: http://www.pnatuna.com/sites/default/files/marketintel22.pdf


Bangkok Tuna market insiders report the latest tuna prices stand at US$1,500 per metric ton as scarcity continues to influence demand. This is the highest price since October 2014 when the price was US$1450.

With the Pacific Tuna Forum this month, a lot of debate is expected to be generated around scarcity and margins of boat owners. Interesting times ahead for the tuna industry.

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Registry blocks purse seiner capacity

A controversial purse seine vessel registry that Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) members say is blocking the ability of islands to own their own fishing boats was the subject of debate during a panel discussion at last month’s Bigeye Tuna Management Workshop in Majuro.

Susan Jackson, President of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), said ISSF created the registry in 2012 for limiting purse seine fishing capacity. The deadline for vessel registration was June this year, after which any new vessel seeking registration must replace an existing fishing boat. The significance of the registry is that most of the world’s tuna processors are ISSF members and won’t buy tuna caught by non-ISSF registered vessels.

“Aspirations of Pacific islands are being blocked (by ISSF),” said Maurice Brownjohn, PNA’s Commercial Manager, at a special panel discussion on the theme “Disproportionate Burden”. Appearing on the panel were Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Executive Director FeletiTeo, PNA CEO Dr. Transform Aqorau, Forum Fisheries Agency Deputy Director Wez Norris, and Jackson. “How is ISSF helping to develop island nations (fisheries capacity) or is it simply entrenching industry interests?” Brownjohn asked.

Jackson said the fishing industry does not consider the registry as entrenching their interests. But Jackson made the point that to cap vessel numbers, any new fishing boats must replace existing capacity.

Since the June effective date, the only way for a new boat to be registered is by scrapping one of the existing vessels. But if Pacific islands don’t have a boat now, how do they get one to scrap? Brownjohn asked. He said many island nations want to own their own vessels.

Earlier this year, Tuvalu announced it would not sell fishing days to distant water fishing nations that were preventing it from buying purse seiners. Following its annual meeting in March, PNA sent letters to Japan, Taiwan and the ISSF raising concerns about their efforts to block islands from developing their own fishing fleets.

Palau's Congress tables sanctuary bill

After months of delays in the Senate, the lower house of the Palau Congress introduced their own version of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary legislation.

Thirteen out of 16 Delegates, including House Speaker SabinoAnastacio, introduced the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Legislation. The legislation includes improvements that ensure Palau will continue to receive revenue from the Parties to Nauru Agreement (PNA) Vessel Day Scheme (VDS).

Palau will still phase out foreign commercial long line fishing over a five year period, then require any locally owned long line catch to be landed in Palau for the domestic and tourism market.

Sustainable levels of free school purse seine operations in the 20% fishing zone and exports will be permitted. The legislation also boosts penalties and requirements for fishing vessels.

Pacific stakeholders head toTuna Forum

All roads lead to Nadi in Fiji this month for tuna stakeholders (a whopping 250 plus delegates) at the biggest tuna industry gathering in the Western and Central Pacific region, the 5th Pacific Tuna Forum.

This year the meeting is scheduled from 22-23 September 2015 at the luxurious Sofitel Resort, Denarau, Nadi, Fiji. 

Dr. Transform Aqorau, Executive Director of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) will kick start the conference proper by delivering the keynote addresses on the theme “Achieving Optimal Economic Benefits Through Sustainable Tuna Management and Development”. He said about the upcoming meeting:“The Pacific Tuna Forum 2015 offers an opportunity for governments, industry and other service providers to the industry to hear what each has to say about what is happening. There has been a greater focus on the PNA Purse Seine Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) and the transformative power of the VDS. We have also seen the resurgence of the WTPO which have coagulated around the low tuna price and have taken voluntary measures for their members to stay in port for 10 days, and a surge in interest in MSC and FAD free tuna from the supermarkets.”

PNG factories lack power supply

The supply of power to Papua New Guinea's manufacturing industry is not living up to expectations, an industry representative says. RD Tuna Canners Ltd managing director Pete Celso said this had a negative impact on the fishing industry, particularly canneries, which were becoming less cost competitive when  pricing their products.

Speaking during the launch of report, “Powering PNG into Asian Market,” by ANZ Bank recently, Celso said cost of doing business in PNG was still very expensive:“Currently we are forced to produce our own power because we don’t have any choice.Power has got to be cost competitive especially in the manufacturing industry as the biggest component.”

Celso added that PNG does not have the economies of scale:“Freight alone is killing us. The challenge on PNG on all decision makers and economic partners now is to analyse very deeply how best all of these things can be addressed. While we can have all the processing facility here, they have to be viable, they have to survive.”

PNG recognises tuna importance

The Government of Papua New Guinea has recognised tuna as an important asset for the country and aims to attain 100 per cent in the country for processing, a senior officer says.

National Planning Department’s First Assistant Secretary for Macro Planning Alfred Mokae said the fisheries sector had been a source of revenue through export of processed and unprocessed fish and other marine products, particularly tuna. It had been estimated that the country loses about K1.7billion annually when tuna caught in PNG waters were being sold and processed overseas.   

Record tuna catch for 2014

Last year produced another record-setting year for tuna catches in the western and central Pacific, a bigeye tuna management meeting in Majuro was told in late August. Industry and fisheries managers attending the Purse Seine Bigeye Tuna Management Workshop in Majuro were provided details of the Secretariat for the Pacific Community’s 2014 stock assessment, which shows commercial fishing boats caught over 2.8 million tons of tuna in 2014, an all-time record.

Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA) scientist Berry Muller delivered the tuna stock update, reporting that purse seiners accounted for the largest share of fish, catching over 2 million tons, while longliners accounted for 268,795 tons and pole and line vessels brought in 203,736.

Muller said the catch of bigeye tuna at 161,299 tons showed a five percent increase. While this was considered “stable” it maintains the bigeye in its “over-fished” condition.


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)
PNA Office PO Box 3992

Majuro, Marshall Islands
MH 96960
Phone: +692 625 7626/7627
Fax: +692 625 7628

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