Tuna Market Intelligence - Issue 38


Tuna insiders at the Bangkok Tuna Market say tuna prices have stagnated at US$1600-$1650 per metric tonne for a number of reasons.

World Tuna Purse Seine Boat Owners Association President (WTPO) Francisco Tiu Laurel said prices have stagnated a little because no one is really selling or buying. He said most parties were waiting for the Bangkok Tuna conference to end before changing prices.

Parties to Nauru Agreement Commercial Manager Maurice Brownjohn said prices remained firm at about $1650 per metric tonne and were unlikely to change dramatically in the short term: “The United States treaty fleet landings, which are significant in the overall BKK supply, are now hitting the processor's  cold stores.

But landings remain modest, cold store inventories overall  remain low so demand  remains firm despite the canned markets remaining soft on the back of price hikes.  With the annual Fish Aggregating Device closure imminent mid year, it will see the traditional  buildup of  inventories in advance and prices held firm.

The impact of the FAD closure on supply has been varying from year to year.”

He said in the past has been buyers holding off on contracts untill prices decline in the last quarter with increased FAD fish flooding the trade in the fourth quarter of the year.

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Bumblebee Tuna deal could create more jobs

A new deal signed by Bumblebee Seafoods and Pacifical, the Parties to Nauru Agreement co-brand of tuna, could create thousands of more jobs for PNA member nations, PNA Commercial Manager Maurice Brownjohn said.

Bumble Bee Seafoods, North America’s premium seafood company, has signed an agreement with Pacifical to purchase and promote MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified tuna coming from eight member countries of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) in the Western Central Pacific Ocean.

Brownjohn said the new deal gives Pacifical major inroads to the United States retail market: “Some Bumblebee product lines will be co-branded as MSC/Pacifical in the future, and their new product lines should be expected soon on supermarket shelves throughout the USA.”

Marshall vessels reflagged to FSM

Two of seven Koo’s Fishing Company purse seiners recently reflagged in the Federated States of Micronesia. Does this indicate that Koo’s is moving out of Marshall Islands and that the high-level of tuna transshipment that has made Majuro the busiest tuna port in the western Pacific for the past several years is moving to Pohnpei?

“No” on both counts, say Majuro officials. Koo’s representative in Majuro, Eugene Muller, confirmed that the company has registered two of its seven vessels in the FSM, but he said the company has no intention of moving its Majuro-based operation. He described it as having a “foot in the door” in the FSM.

Koo’s vessels were unable to fish early in the year when fishing days through Vessel Day Scheme were the subject of protracted negotiations with the fisheries department in Majuro, a situation resolved two months into 2016.

Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority Director Glen Joseph said it made good business sense for Koo’s to have a “domestic” presence in both the Marshall Islands and FSM. “Any fishing company would be smart to have broader access for its boats,” Joseph said. Having vessels flagged in both FSM and RMI is “a recipe for success.”

As to a shift in transshipment operations away from Majuro, Joseph said he had not seen statistics to suggest this. In fact, the last week of April there were 10 carrier vessels in Majuro, and 11 transshipments completed or taking place, a relatively normal level of tuna transshipment.

Joseph said he sees the FSM continuing to grow in prominence for the north Pacific because of its vast and lucrative fishing grounds. “The FSM has the potential to be the Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands of the north,” Joseph said, referring to the large-scale tuna processing and other fisheries operations in those two south Pacific nations.

More fishing in West Pacific

Tuna Vessel owners reveal that fishing is picking up in the Western Pacific.

World Tuna Purse Seine Boat Owners Association President (WTPO) Francisco Tiu Laurel said fishing was better in PNA waters like Federated States of Micronesia and Papua New Guinea compared to last year.

He said this was due to the El Nino phenomenon which kept the eastern waters warmer and fish normally migrate to warmer waters.However at the same time he said fishing was slow in general.

“At the moment the industry is working closely with the PNA to make the industry more sustainable, feasible and stable,” Laurel said.

Palau introduces tuna tagging

The Palau government has secured an agreement with National Geographic’s scientists to support the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) and Palau International Coral Reef (PICRC) to start a tuna tagging research project. The research will help develop scientific baselines to gauge the effectiveness of the sanctuary.

Yimnang Golbuu, PICRC CEO and scientist said that the PNMS’s implementation would be needing a good science and monitoring program. Golbuu said National Geographic would bring with then high-technology satellite tags, which will commence in Palau in August.

The tags, he said would be able to track tuna movements and habitat use. The tagging will help Palau understand the residency time of tuna tagged in Palau.   It will also help determine each species relative depth at different times during the day. The tagging will also determine where a certain tuna species is a “resident” or usually stay longer in Palau even though tuna  are considered  highly migratory species.

Fishing deal row steps up

Cook Islands Opposition coalition has petitioned a Swedish politician and influential international conservation organisation to make representations to the EU parliament to stop their government doing a fisheries deal with the EU, Pacnews reports.

Opposition finance and economy spokesman James Beer has written to Sweden’s minister for International Development Cooperation Isabella Lovin and the Swedish Society for the Conservation of Nature to take forward the opposition’s concerns over the EU fishing deal.

From 2009 to 2014, Lovin was a member of the EU Parliament, her area of expertise – fisheries.

In 2013, Lovin wrote to the Kiribati government expressing deep concerns over the purse seining agreement with the EU that the tiny island country had initialled. She cautioned the Kiribati government about a number of questionable aspects of the EU Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement. Kiribati did not renew the protocols of the EU agreement last year.

Beer has informed minister Lovin that the draft protocol signed by MMR secretary Ben Ponia without the approval of cabinet “but now endorsed by the cabinet of the Cook Islands,” is almost a carbon copy of the Kiribati deal she was deeply worried about.

Beer told Lovin that the deal permits four of the worlds’ largest purse seiners access to Cook Islands waters to catch seven million kilos of fish a year “…for what is best described as a payment in peanuts”.

Access to the Spanish purse seiners was guaranteed for 12 years under the protocol, said Beer. 

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 www.pnatuna.com



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