Tuna Market Intelligence - Issue 5

Issue 5, 9 December 2014

Your fortnightly report on trends and influencers on the global tuna market from the Pacific Islands. Click this link to read PDF: http://www.pnatuna.com/sites/default/files/Market%20Intel%205.pdf


The latest tuna prices confirmed by market insiders on the Bangkok Tuna market estimate that prices have dropped to a low of US$1,000- US$1,100 per metric tonne for the end of the catch season.

They also predict tuna prices will be between the range of US$1,000-1,800 per metric tonne in 2015.

The premier tuna grouping of the Western and Central Pacific region the Parties to Nauru Agreement (PNA) believes that the drop in prices has been largely due to boats stocking up during the Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) closure period.
Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Chief Executive Office Dr Transform Aqorau said since the recent Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting failed to address overfishing, the PNA will strengthen the VDS and increase the VDS fees as a means of addressing these issues.

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***PNA nations eyes on VDS***

Whilst PNA nations attending their annual WCPFC meeting were once again rocked by some poor decisions on conservation management measures for tropical tunas, including the depleting bigeye stock, the good news is that it has rallied the PNA troops. “There has been a consensus building within the PNA that we may have to cut down fishing days to the very nations who have opposed some of the measures we had proposed - like Japan did with the skipjack measure,” PNA Chief Executive Officer Dr Transform Aqorau said.

"Through our Vessel Day Scheme we will look at the examples that nations like PNG have shown in increasing scarcity and gaining benefits from it. So, whilst we may have been shut out at WCPFC level we will engage the Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFNs) on the commercial Vessel Day Scheme.”

"Papua New Guinea sold their VDS day for as high as US$12,000 to Taiwan for 20 days so you can imagine how competitive their bidding was."

The WCPFC meeting ended in Apia, Samoa last week December 5 and already the buzz word is for PNA members is 'cut days': reducing Vessel Day Scheme Days to increase prices making it harder for smaller unprofitable boats to continue to fish.

***PNA takes over top WCPFC jobs***

Two influential positions in the WCPFC are from the PNA. Tuvalu's Feleti Teo, the current interim director of the Pacific Islands Development Forum, will become Executive Director whilst Marshall Islander Rhea Moss Christian will become chairperson.

Dr Aqorau hailed the appointments as a beacon for PNA nations but the Commission is still governed by its convention and this commission is multinational in composition featuring some of the world's superpowers like the United States of America, China Japan and the European Union.

Mr Teo and Mrs Christian were endorsed by the PNA at the ministerial meeting in Tuvalu before the WCPFC.

***Tokelau signs agreement***

Good news for the Government of Tokelau and Tri Marine fishing company. The two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to increase the economic benefits of the nation's tuna fishery during the WCPFC meeting in Samoa last week. This will create employment opportunities for Tokelauans and Samoans at the Samoa Tuna Processors (STP) plant cannery in American Samoa.

“We have been working on this partnership for three years. It represents a mutual commitment to work closely together to sustainably manage and bring to market Tokelau’s tuna resources through Tri Marine’s large-scale tuna facilities in Pago Pago, American Samoa,” explained Phil Roberts, Tri Marine Managing Director.

***PNG awaits EU meeting***

Papua New Guinea's National Fisheries Authority Managing Director John Kasu is awaiting a meeting with the European Union (EU) as they continue to address concerns raised by the EU, which landed them a 'yellow card' status.

Speaking after the WCPFC meeting in Apia, he said they had put in necessary measures to address these concerns and there were a few other matters they would discuss. In a separate interview on the same issue, the National newspaper reports that the National Fisheries Authority has also reassured everyone that the state is addressing European Union concerns in areas such as traceability, conservation and the illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities in PNG waters. NFA deputy managing director Philip Polon said: “Review is already with the Minister (Mao Zeming) we’re anticipating Parliament to debate by mid next year and actual implementation should be after July 2015.”

***PNG clears captured fishing boats***

Oops! - looks like the five fishing vessels captured and arrested by the joint Pacific maritime surveillance operation dubbed 'Operation Kurukuru' in Papua New Guinea waters have been cleared. NFA's Deputy managing director Philip Polon admitted the vessels had been taken in by ‘mistake’.

Polon said: “The vessels were legally licensed to catch squid and bottomless fish in the Dogleg area, of Western. They were actually taken by mistake in a joint venture operation we had with Defence (PNGDF). We couldn’t do inspection out at sea so they (vessels) were brought in (Port Moresby) to be thoroughly checked and they were okay so they were released.”

***Japan tries to water down PNA Skipjack measure***

Japan had tried to put forward a counter proposal to the Parties to Nauru Agreement (PNA) and Tokelau's proposal on a skipjack tuna forcing them to finally withdraw it from the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting.

The measure would have set a reference point, or agreed level of fishing for skipjack tuna, the most common canned tuna. PNA manages the world’s largest healthy stock of skipjack tuna, providing 50% of the world’s supply.

PNA Chief Executive Officer Dr Transform Aqorau said the proposal would have set fishing effort of skipjack tuna to sustainable levels and also protected tuna stocks which is one reason the WCPFC was formed. "Instead Japan proposes to cut down fishing for half of the foreign purse seine vessels fishing in the Small Islands Developing States and this would include all the Japanese purse seine fleet,” commented Dr Aqorau.

"Their argument that this is a good enough tradeoff between the economic impacts on SIDS and the impacts of their domestic communities is wrong and contradicts the convention and their alternative proposal fails article 30 of the WCPFC convention."

But the PNA nations will have the final say - through initiatives such as PNG's successful VDS days auction. Some fishing companies are expected to be in for a surprise in 2015.

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)
PNA Office PO Box 3992

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

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