Tuna Market Intelligence - Issue 23

Issue 23, September 16, 2015

Your fortnightly report on trends and influencers on the global tuna market from the Pacific Islands.


Prices on the Ecuador Tuna Market are slowly catching up to their Thailand counterparts, tuna insiders report.

Insiders report some deals closed at $1,500 per metric ton, with the minimum price reaching $1,450/t.

Prices for skipjack in Bangkok, Thailand, have stagnated at US$1,500 per metric ton for the last two months.

With the Pacific Tuna Forum scheduled for Nadi in Fiji next week, stakeholders, legislators and industry heads will discuss issues like the fishing closure that has affected fishing supply and pushed up prices.

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WCPFC boss making the right noises

The new Western and Central Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) Executive Director FeletiTeo said it is time that the commission heeded the warnings about overfishing of bigeyetuna.

Addressing the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in Port Moresby last week,Teo saidat the recent annual meeting of Tuna Commission scientists, serious concerns were raised about the status of the bigeye tuna stock.

Bigeye tuna is one of the highest-value tuna species because it is sought for the sashimi delicacy in restaurants throughout the world but its stock status is overfished.

"And yet, although this fact was known at the 2014 Tuna Commission annual meeting in Apia, Samoa, the meeting could not agree on any meaningful management measure to address the bigeye issue," Teo said."This setback has created a new level of urgency for the Commission. I believe that our 2015 annual meeting has no option but to adopt meaningful measures to reduce the bigeye tuna mortality level.”

He said his team had already stared visiting the four key Asian fishing member nations of the Commission—Japan, China, Korea and Chinese Taipei, and they were planning similar visits to other member countries.

Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) CEO Dr Transform Aqorau said Teo's comments come at a crucial time:

"His comments come as a breath of fresh air when many people were losing confidence in the ability of the commission to address sustainable fisheries issues based on scientific evidence provided by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.”

Majuro is tuna transshipment hub

Heavy use of Port Majuro by the tuna industry is maintaining this north Pacific atoll as the busiest transshipment port in the region. Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA) staff confirmed that a total of 11 tuna carrier vessels and 18 purse seiners were in port the week of September 14, with more arriving later in the week. Two more purse seiners and four carrier vessels had notified MIMRA of their expected arrival later in the week to join the 29 vessels currently anchored in the lagoon.

With the overall slow-down by purse seiners responding to depressed prices for skipjack tuna on the world market, most vessels stay in port for a week or more after off-loading their tuna tonnage. This is having spinoff benefits to local restaurants, bars and stores as fishermen are seen using many of these facilities while they wait for delayed departure times from port.

The latest transshipment data available shows that in 2014, 531 carriers and purse seiners transshipped in Majuro, a 34 percent increase over the previous year of 396 vessels. The fees paid to Authority increased from $413,000 to $547,000 from 2013 to 2014.

VDS or quota system?

Whilst Pacific Island Forum leaders opted to endorse a ten year roadmap for sustainable fisheries it looks like the industry may be faced with the dilemma of having to choose between a quota system or continue with the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS).

Director General of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, James Movick said the quota system was a good idea: “It will provide a better way of managing the sustainable conservation of our fisheries because you are trading actual catch rather than what we are doing right now, trading days, which is a proxy for an amount we catch per day. The problem for the last few years has been that while we have reduced the number of days available to vessels to fish, the amount of catch has increased because of the increased efficiency of the boats.”

Kiribati’s President Anote Tong said Leaders welcomed the re-examination of the current fisheries arrangement for the Pacific: “We have always been concerned that the effort based management system was a bit dangerous because we are hearing reports of the severe over exploitation with some of the species with the technology becoming too efficient. The Vessel Day Scheme was getting a bit dangerous in terms of ensuring the sustainability of the resources.”

PNA CEO Dr Transform Aqorau was more circumspect commenting full details of how the quota system were yet to be outlined.  He said 17 Pacific nations, some with high tuna stocks and others with almost none, trying to reach a common goal was going to be the challenge.

Leaders agreed to form a joint taskforce of FFA, PNA and the Forum Secretariat be formed to lead the development of a programme to increase the sustainable economic returns of fisheries, including examining a quota management system, and report back to Leaders in 2016.

Palau to reward informers

Palau has a new law calling for increase in fishing fines of up to $1million also has a provision rewarding informants.

The reward is three percent of any fines collected from the successful bust and prosecution.

A part of the fines collected from the successful apprehension of illegal fishing is also proposed to be divided among the states in Palau.

Senate Bill No. 9-59, SD1, HD1stated that although the current penalties for illegal fishing in Palau can be as high as $250,000, it is still lower compared to the fines imposed by its neighboring countries such as Federated of States of Micronesia (FSM).The law now imposes a minimum fine of $500,000 for illegal fishing.

The law also penalizes tampering of automatic location communicator. Offender will not only face civil penalties of up to $1 million but imprisonment of two years.

Stakeholders head to Nadi

The biggest tuna industry gathering in the Western and Central Pacific region, the 5th Pacific Tuna Forum is scheduled from 22-23 September 2015 at the Sofitel Resort, Denarau, Nadi, Fiji.  More than 250 delegates are expected to be part of this Pacific tuna meeting with over 30 well-known speakers scheduled to speak at the event.

The next Tuna Market Intelligence will be a special report on the Pacific Tuna Forum.

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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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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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