Tuna Market Intelligence - Issue 25

Issue 25, October 18, 2015


Tuna prices at the Bangkok Tuna market have slid even further: registering a US$1,300 per metric tonne on October 7 compared to the last market update which put prices at US$1,400 per tonne in September.

It looks like buyers are reluctant to buy more as prices tend to decrease but may pick up later, sources say.

Catches in the western waters of the region have been low whilst the eastern waters have recorded higher catches - which can be attributed to cooler climates in the West like Papua New Guinea compared to the East in countries like Kiribati.

Send us your tips to marketintel@pnatuna.com


Companies scramble for days

Purse seine fishing companies are scrambling to find fishing days to get through to the end of 2015. As the end of the year looms, many fishing companies are short of days, report Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority Director Glen Joseph.

“We were not allocated enough days (for 2015),” said Koo’s Fishing Company Majuro Manager Eugene Muller, adding that his company has approached other PNA members aside the Marshall Islands to see about access to days. “They’re also short of days,” he added. The Majuro-based fishing company has been using its allotted in-zone fishing days with care, and fishing on the high seas so it can make it to the end of the year and keep fishing, Muller said.

Because fishing has been heavier in eastern PNA zones than in Papua New Guinea waters and the west, there are some excess fishing days that companies fishing in the east are buying or negotiating to buy. Koo’s, which flags its seven vessels in the Marshall Islands, is already purchasing days from other PNA parties for 2016 to supplement the base number of fishing days it will receive from the Marshall Islands.

PNG welcomes removal of Yellow card

Papua New Guinea has welcomed the lifting of the Yellow Card status imposed on it by the European Commission

The status warning given by the EC in June last year has been a major issue as they enjoyed market access to the EU under the interim Economic Partnership Agreement.

PNG was issued the yellow flag in June 2014 while the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu were issued the yellow flag in late 2014, joining Kiribati and the Republic of Marshall Islands.

PNA promotes small-scale canning in Marshall Island

Local businesses and non-government groups gained a firsthand look at small-scale fish canning opportunities this past week in Majuro.

The joint project of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) and the Marshall Islands government’s Office of Commerce and Investment provided a hands-on demonstration of how the canning process works, using tuna by-catch available from the hundreds of purse seiners transshipping tuna in port Majuro, tuna from other local processors, and reef fish from a fish farming operation.

The low-tech, relatively low-cost operation minimizes initial capital needed for start up and avoids high labor costs, said PNA’s Commercial Manager Maurice Brownjohn.

The goal is to interest local groups, such as Women United Together Marshall Islands (the national women’s organization) and established businesses to begin small-scale canning, initially for the local market.

PNA policy requires that purse seiners retain all tuna by-catch on board. Of little commercial value, this by catch is often not used and ends up as fishmeal or more typically discarded at sea.

From October 12 to 16, a trial run using small-scale cooking and canning gear processed mackerel, skipjack and “moi” (“Pacific Threadfin,” a fish being grown in cages in Majuro’s lagoon).OCI and PNA then hosted an open forum on October 16 to demonstrate basic canning safety, results from the trials, and offer taste tests.

Fisheries Ministers decline US requests

Two strong statements with opposing ideals were made by two PNA nations Tuvalu and PNG at the special Forum Fisheries Ministers meeting in Nadi last week.

Tuvalu's Pita Elisala says they received US$17m from the treaty and valued the contribution it had made to their economy. However, PNG Fisheries Minister Mao Zheming urged his fellow Ministers not to concede to the US requests.

In the end, it looks as if most parties agreed with Minister Zheming and they declined a number of requests, including one to fish in the Western High Seas which have been closed.

Ministers also considered the request to grant an exemption to US vessels under the Vessel Day Scheme in respect of the length adjustment factors but this was declined.  However, Ministers agreed to offer a discount to the US for 2016 in the amount of $680,000.

Canning firm looks to Kiribati option

PNG tuna firm Frabelle is looking at building a tuna loin processing plant in Kiribati to increase production for their secured markets.

"By the end of 2015, we hope to get production up to 120t per day – at this level we break even. In 2016, we hope for 160, 170t," Frabelle President Francisco Tiu Laurel said.

He added a lot would depend on whether Kiribati could secure market access in the EU.  Their company enjoys such access in their PNG operations.

"Our canneries in PNG need about 35 metric tonnes of skipjack tuna next year," Laurel said."For Kiribati we intend to put up a loin plant with partners like Majestic of PNG, Dongwon and Silla of Korea and we plan to build the facility in Tarawa.  Kiribati is a major fishing ground and it would be nice to build a plant near where the fishing ground.  From there we intend to sell products to Thailand, Phillipines, Japan, South America and maybe some parts of the Middle East.”

PNA not worried with WWF issues on MSC

The Parties to Nauru Agreement (PNA) believes it has nothing to worry about regarding how Marine Stewardship Certification concerns are being raised by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) in the Indian Ocean.

WWF objected to Echebaster's MSC certification based on the fact that the certification body had recommended certification, despite the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) not having clearly defined harvest control rules in place and serious concerns over data and management.

As a result, Echebaster sent a list of skipjack fisheries that they believed should also undergo similar scrutiny and the PNA was named in that list.

PNA's Commercial Director Maurice Brownjohn said the Indian Ocean does not have the benefit of years of data and science like the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, which has had the services of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) for the last 60 years.

WWF's Western Central Pacific Tuna Programme Manager Alfred “Bubba” Cook said they only objected to the Echebaster fishery on the basis that no reasonable formal Harvest Control Rules and limited data were in place justifying certification: "The only way the objection to the Echebaster fishery affects the PNA fishery is that it provides more clarity in what will need to be achieved as part of the Annual Surveillance audits with respect to the implementation of a Harvest Control Rule in the PNA fishery." 


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




Get In Contact With Us

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

Sign Up for our Newsletter

Stay informed on our latest news!

Subscribe to www.pnatuna.com newsletter feed