Pacific Fisheries Agency Promotes Tuna For EU Businesses

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European companies could benefit from Pacific tuna processing

By Jane Joshua

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, June 20, 2012) – While European Union (EU) investors are yet to express an interest in resource development partnerships in the Pacific’s Fisheries Sector, the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) say there is "a natural fit" between the region which has control over significant raw material and abundant labor and EU processors who could invest in regional processing of tuna loins.

FFA’s Manager of the Regional Integration in Pacific Islands Tuna Fisheries Unit, Peter Philipson, revealed this in his presentation on Sectoral Opportunities for Private Sector Developing in the 1st Pacific-EU Business dialogue in Port Vila, Tuesday.

"Inwards investment into the regional fisheries sector exceeded US$200 million in the last 12 months," he said.

Mr. Philipson said FFA is conducting a series of "Calls for Expressions of Interest (EOI)" for resource development partnerships on behalf of regional resource owners and these EoIs have attracted ‘substantial’ interest from Asian investors but none from the EU.

Available fishing effort in the Western Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) is already excessive, vessel numbers will be reduced and there is little scope for new effort and any new investment in catching will be linked to regional processing and a displacement of existing effort.

"EU investors in regional loin production could secure both raw material and intermediate products (loins) for further processing and marketing in the home country," he said, something which is already happening.

The good news for regional Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is that significant linkages will exist for SMEs to support large scale processing investments.

A typical regional loining plant, said Mr. Philipson will employ 1,000-plus people and the plant will generate many and varied business opportunities for local SMEs.

For Vanuatu Director of Fisheries Moses Amos recently called on the government to commit itself to investing in its infrastructure because the lack of infrastructure effectively limits Fisheries in processing productions even if it attempted to increase the production Fisheries resources, reflected in the 8,000 metric tons of tuna caught in Vanuatu’s EEZ ending up in Fiji (2011).

As Tonga’s Chamber of Commerce Edgar Cougar said last week, "We have too many strategies; Tonga is not short of strategies. But there are two different groups-the strategy maker and the policy maker and they are not working together.

"At the end of the day we have policy makers who are actually controlling the resources and strategy makers who are not getting anywhere."

He said Tonga’s case is where in its attempts to priorities sectors and reviewing and developing a Private Sector Development Strategy they discovered some of the sectors they need to promote was put as a low priority, in particular fisheries.

And part of the reason is that they have the mentality the European market is far too big to penetrate and also that the fish resource is a highly migratory species.

Owing to the bone structure of the tuna, there are two belly loins and two back loins per fish.

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