PACIFIC ISLANDS MUST TAP INTO AUSTRALIAN TUNA MARKET, SAYS REPORT

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (February 9, 2001 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---There are many opportunities in Australia for Pacific island nation suppliers of canned tuna.

According to a report prepared for the South Pacific Trade Commission, the Australian market for tuna is worth about A$ 180 million (US$ 96,372,000) a year and growing.

There are no import duties on tuna from the South Pacific, the South Pacific Trade Commission said in its latest edition of Business Pacific.

Island communities should find a good managing agent in Australia and ensure a high level and consistent quality product, Business Pacific recommended, if they wished to gain a greater share of the enormous canned tuna market in Australia.

In Papua New Guinea, Madang-based RD Tuna processes tuna. It services the domestic market as well as parts of the European market.

RD Tuna processed 18 metric tons of tuna per day from the 120 tons of fish brought in by its fleet of fishing vessels operating within the PNG 200 mile exclusive economic zone.

Another tuna factory in East Sepik province is yet to get off the ground although all arrangements for the establishment of the facility were finalized last year between the provincial government and the company.

Meanwhile, the South Pacific Trade Commission report, titled The Australian Market for Canned Tuna from the Pacific Islands, can be obtained through the SPTC's new website at http://www.sptc.gov.au

The highly detailed 30-page document covers industry trends, distribution channels and mark-ups, import regulations, customers and their requirements, competition, quality assurance and packaging, prices and payment terms and marketing strategies, Business Pacific reported.

It said one country now realizing the potential of its surrounding waters is the Solomon Islands, which recently signed a new tuna agreement with Taiwan.

The agreement, thought to be worth millions of dollars, will bring Taiwanese boats back into Solomon Islands waters after a year's absence, it said.

According to Business Pacific, the region is home to the largest tuna stock in the world.

It said an estimated one million tons of tuna are caught in the Pacific every year, worth around US$1.7 billion (K 5.2 billion), making it the biggest sustainable source of potential wealth in the Pacific.

However, most of the tuna is caught by foreign-owned vessels, then processed and sold outside the region.

Business Pacific said most of the boats are also serviced and provisioned outside the Pacific.

It said Forum Island countries received around US$ 65 million a year from the operators of the fishing boats in fisheries access fees. Many countries are working to become more directly involved in the industry, it said.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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