FUTURE BRIGHT FOR PNG TUNA INDUSTRY

Editorial

PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 1, 2011) – Papua New Guinea is finally sending some shocks waves into one of the world’s most protected and lucrative markets for the first time.

And the shock waves are of a good nature. Parliament last week ratified an agreement between PNG and the European Union which will allow, for the first time, PNG to have relaxed conditions of entry into the European market for its tuna products. This is great news, given that tuna is abundant in our warm waters and has been harvested in the past by foreigners.

In the past 20 years, we have moved to harvest and produce tuna products within the country.

What this agreement means is that we are opening up our market base for tuna products and as such, can expect an upswing in production and the seting up of more tuna processing plants in the country. Madang has been earmarked as the country’ s marine park where we can expect further investment in the industry to crop up now.

In Europe, the tuna fraternity is not happy. It is warning that with the advent of PNG tuna products into the European market, which is cheaper, they will be forced to close processing plants and up to 12,000 jobs lost. We will wait and see what happens there but locally, this is a huge plus for the tuna industry and PNG.

Like most island states in the central and western Pacific regions, the tuna resources found within the Papua New Guinea 200-mile Declared Fisheries Zone (DFZ) represent an important resource.

In our case, the tuna resources, if fully developed, could be one of the nation’s most valuable export industries. The results of Skipjack Tuna Assessment Program conducted by the South Pacific Commission (SPC) in the 1980s infer that 180,000 metric tonnes of skipjack tuna can be taken annually from PNG’s DFZ on a sustainable basis.

Total reported landings of skipjack tuna within PNG waters were approximately 42,000 tonnes in 1980 and 31,000t in 1981 which represent 23 percent and 17 percent, respectively, of the possible skipjack yield from the zone.

The global tuna market is worth about US6.1 billion annually, and if fully developed, PNG has the potential to supply 11 per cent of that market. This is part of the reason why the National Government is developing the Madang Marine Park.

In the Pacific alone, PNG’s tuna supplies account for 60 per cent of the market, according to research figures in the industry for the past 10 years.

The Government expects that with the entry into the European market of PNG tuna, investment in the industry will result in a massive 20,000 jobs created for Papua New Guineans.

With high unemployment, this is great news for ordinary Papua new Guineans to land jobs in the formal sector. Coupled with the massive number of jobs being created in the resource development sector, principally through the LNG project, this is great news.

PNG’s coastal waters teem with marine life and fishery that if properly developed and managed, it could be one of our biggest export earners.

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