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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, March 22) - The South Seas tuna loining plant in Wewak will start canning operations in the next eight to 10 weeks.

The canned tuna will be sold in the local market initially.

Michael McCulley, president of South Seas Tuna Corp, revealed this when he welcomed the members of the National Executive Council during a visit to the processing plant last week.

The NEC members held a two-day cabinet meeting in Wewak.

The cannery was opened three years ago and is employing 1,900 workers with a monthly payroll of PGK400,000 [US$141,613] and operating expenses of PGK2.3 million [US$814,274].

The company processes 110 tons of fish a day and the frozen tuna loins are exported to markets around the world.

Mr. McCulley told NEC members the operation continues to lose money, but they were getting close to break-even.

Since its operations, the loining plant has been producing its own electricity because the Wewak power generating plant did not have the capacity to supply the combined needs of the plant and the rest of the consumers.

.McCulley told the cabinet members he was concerned about the limited capacity of the Wewak wharf to handle ships.

The wharf could only handle one vessel at a time and the wharf congestion was preventing SSTC from further expansion.

"Realistically, the wharf’s current capacity will be a serious impediment to any further development," according to McCulley.

The employment of 1,900 locals had also provided the community with a modest but steady economic growth, which had put a strain on the local police force to address the law and order problems.

He asked the Government to ensure police in Wewak were equipped to meet the growing needs of the community and business houses.

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