Majuro, Marshall Islands 19 October 2016: Thirteen participants from Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands successfully gained certification for small-scale tuna canning operations following a one-week training in Majuro.

   This was the first regional tuna canning training for business and government representatives from member nations of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) that manages the multi-billion dollar tuna fishery in the western and central Pacific.

   Sponsored jointly by the Majuro-based PNA Office and the Marshall Islands government’s Office of Commerce and Investment (OCI), the training aimed to spur island entrepreneurs to develop new businesses and revenue streams from the existing commercial tuna fishery, said PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru.

   An important goal of last week’s canning training was to empower local entrepreneurs to “change the mindset of dependency so they are not scared of starting a business.”

   He emphasized that it does not take a lot of money to start small-scale tuna canning in the islands. Cooking and canning equipment can be purchased for less than US$2,000 and tuna for canning is available free or at low-cost because of PNA fishing rules that require purse seine fishing boats to retain all fish caught and to transship in ports. This has created large volumes of “by-catch” unwanted by the commercial tuna companies, but suitable for canning locally, Mr. Kumoru said.

   The trainees from the four island nations were recognized by Marshall Islands Foreign Affairs Minister John Silk and Resources and Development Minister Alfred Alfred, Jr. who attended different phases of the program. Eight of the 13 participants successfully completed both assistant and supervisory certificate programs, while five successfully completed the assistant certificate.

   Office of Commerce and Investment CEO Ravuni Uluilakeba said OCI was delighted to partner with PNA in support of the regional training that offered substantial opportunity to Marshall Islands-based businesses and government entities, as well as those from the region.

   PNA’s aim is to “bring wealth from the fishery to (PNA members) both governments and people,” said Mr. Kumoru.

   The training was conducted by Chris Bourne of the Australia-based company Food Stream, which has conducted tuna processing trainings in Fiji and Papua New Guinea as well as in the Marshall Islands. The training involved classroom and practical training on the cooking and canning equipment at a local fishing processing company. Each of the two course sections — assistant and supervisor — concluded with written examinations to ensure participants met requirements for certification. 

   PNA Commercial Manager Maurice Brownjohn said the small-scale canning equipment is not expensive or large. “This is canning technology that you can set up and use on a four by four foot table,” Mr. Brownjohn said. “It doesn’t have to be on a large industrial scale.”

   Mr. Kumoru said he hoped to see more trainings such as the one concluded last week in Majuro in other PNA nations in collaboration with government departments. “Our aim is to add value to the tuna fishery for our islands, and to engage local businesses and government agencies develop initiatives that will create jobs and generate revenue for local economies from the commercial fishery,” Mr. Kumoru said.