Tuna Market Intelligence - Issue 51

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

We apologise for a mistake in the first emailed out story about fishing effort that mistook catch for days. The correct story is below for reference.

Last quarter fishing boom continues, despite ups and downs

Despite complaints from fishing industry quarters that fishing was down, the PNA Office reported average monthly effort in PNA waters for the last quarter of 2016 was 3586 days up from 2015’s average monthly effort in the last quarter of 3125 days. Taking a longer view, effort has reduced since 2011 when the last quarter monthly effort was around 1000 days more, standing at 4516. One thing that hasn’t changed in effort levels is the importance of the last quarter, with the highest effort of the year over the past six years generally occurring in this end-year rush.


Market prices in Bangkok dropped about $50 to $1700 mt in recent weeks. Despite pundits last month saying prices could reach $1800 mt, increased supply downed these hopes.

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Solomon Islands clear for EU trade, Kiribati under watch

The “yellow card” given to Solomon Islands back in 2014 has now been removed by the EU.

The lifting recognizes the progress made by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and the industry in strengthening its control over illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Solomon Islands updated its fisheries law and regulations as well as strengthening its monitoring, control and surveillance system in response to the “yellow card”.

Solomon Islands joins other Pacific countries Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, that previously had “yellow cards” that have now been lifted by EU. Meanwhile, Kiribati’s “yellow card” is still in place after being imposed in 2016.

Kiribati’s card was reported to be due to concerns around transparency and information tracking its catch and trade of fish. The EC decision said Kiribati could not provide adequate information on species caught, fishing products landed and transshipped and trade flows.

However, the impact of the card in Kiribati is far weaker than in Solomon Islands because of different trade relationships. Kiribati-caught tuna is primarily sent to Bangkok, not the EU, whereas Solomon Islands tuna is exported to several EU destinations. However, complicating the situation, Kiribati does have a Fisheries Partnership Agreement with the EU which is until 2018 so it will be interesting to see what, if any, effect the “yellow card” has on these bilateral deals. 

China eases the import tariff pains

China reduced its import tariffs this year (from January on) for several species including six species of frozen tuna. In further good news for exporters to China, the tariff cut applies even to countries who do not have a free trade agreement.

However, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce described the moves as a temporary measure to increase supply.

Tariffs for albacore tuna, yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, Atlantic bluefin tuna, Pacific bluefin tuna and Southern bluefin tuna will all be reduced from 12% to 6%.

Tuna transshipment in high gear in Majuro

Tuna transshipment activity in Majuro returned to high gear in January, with 49 purse seiners off-loading tuna to anchored carrier vessels. Although data for February was not yet available, transshipment activity appeared similarly strong through the month, with seven or more carriers and numerous purse seiners in port.

The 49 transshipments accounted for about 50,000 tons of tuna moving through Majuro in January destined for canneries. This was slightly above Port Majuro’s 2016 monthly average of 47 transshipments. All told, 2016 saw 561 transshipments, maintaining Majuro as the world’s busiest tuna transshipment port.

The Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority reported that 51 purse seiners were in Majuro during January, with 49 engaged transshipped their tuna cargos. A total of 16 carrier vessels were also in port during the month to pick up tuna.

PNG to host key tuna events this September

The National Fisheries Authority has begun preparations for global tuna events this year - the Inaugural Pacific Seafood and Technology Exposition, and the Sixth Pacific Tuna Forum, will be held in Port Moresby on September 12-14.

National Fisheries Authority Board Chairman, Job Pomat, told PACMAS this will be an opportunity for PNG and Pacific island based sea food suppliers to showcase their products and develop partnerships in order to meet market demands. 

He said hosting these two events was the outcome of a challenge he had issued at the last Pacific Tuna Forum, for INFOFISH, NFA and other regional organisations to consider establishing an additional event focused on promoting and supporting the Pacific Islands based fishing and seafood industry specifically.  

EU muscles flexed in the Pacific

The EU showed its muscles last month, and perhaps a sign of things to come, as it expanded fisheries agreements in the Western and Central Pacific.

Traditionally, EU fishing wheelers and dealers have concentrated their energy in an eastern direction (Kiribati and Latin America), but with the signing of an agreement with Cook Islands and an upcoming one with Indonesia, things are shifting.

The Cook Islands News reported one of the licenced vessels under Cook Islands’ new agreement with the EU started fishing in February. The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement will allow the EU fleet to fish 7000 mt of tuna a year in Cook Islands in exchange for $7.78 million New Zealand Dollars over four years.

$565,250 will be paid in the first and second years, and $513,863in the third and fourth. In addition, around $565,250 will be paid per year to support the fishing policy of the archipelago. A petition and now court case is being pursued by Cook Islanders against the deal, with the court case hearing expected this month.

Meanwhile, in Indonesia, negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement with the EU completed their second round with another set scheduled for September this year. While Indonesia already has tariff-free entry to EU for precooked loins, its canned tuna tariffs are levied at 20.5%. If this tariff were to be removed, it would be quite a boost for Indonesian industry which in 2015 sent 1.4 million cartons (48x185g) to the EU.

MSC fisheries call on Tuna Commission to act

A group of fishing organisations, representing areas either MSC-certified or in the process of becoming certified, sent a joint letter to the Western and Central Pacific Commission (WCPFC) asking it to get its house in order.

The so-called WCPO Tuna MSC Alignment Group, encompassing the fisheries associations plus The Nature Conservancy, WWF, International Seafood Sustainability Foundation and International Pole and Line Foundation  said they were “cautiously optimistic that the lack of progress at WCPFC13 in implementing the harvest strategy workplan activities scheduled during 2016 can be corrected at WCPFC14.”

The letter points to the need for the Commission to act to meet sustainability standards such as MSC. Priority actions were listed as: adopting and implementing harvest strategies, making the measures meet the scientific standards, better FAD management, transshipment rules and increasing observer coverage for longline vessels. 


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

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

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