PALAU'S TUNA INDUSTRY IN BAD SHAPE

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KOROR, Palau (May 27, 1999 - PACNEWS)---The tuna industry in Palau has suffered a serious decline, netting only US$ 9 million of the industry's $28 million gross value.

Revenues are based on the catches from 1993-1997. The figures represent a loss between 35 and 45 percent, according to a report, "Palau's Locally Based Foreign Tuna Fishery: Benefits and Costs to Palau," prepared by the Palau Conservation Society (PCS).

Preliminary regional catch data suggest a substantial decline in long line production throughout the western and central Pacific.

However, the report noted the lack of clarity, as to what degree the decline is brought about by---convolution of local and regional factors such as industry's increasing tax burden, contraction of China’s fleet exploring the Pacific Island Region or reduction in Japan's demand for sashimi due to the Asian economic crisis.

The decline started in 1985 when the structure of Palau's long line fishery changed with the distant water fleet shrinking in size, being replaced with vessels from China and Taiwan.

The catch and value of locally-based and distant water long line fisheries on Palau decreased substantially after 1993, with the former averaging 2,500 metric tons annually from 1993 through 1997.

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