Marshall Islands Hopes To Receive Huge Increase In Fishing Revenue

New vessel day scheme could bring $24 million from commercial fishery

By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, Jan. 6, 2017) – The Marshall Islands expects to set a record by reeling in over $24 million from commercial tuna fishing in 2017.

Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority or MIMRA Director Glen Joseph said nearly all of its fishing days for 2017 under the Parties to the Nauru Agreement’s vessel day scheme have been sold. This is anticipated to generate $23.9 million, with 88 fishing days still left to sell, which could generate close to another million dollars depending on the price.

While the Parties to the Nauru Agreement or PNA minimum price for a fishing day is $8,000, about one-third of MIMRA’s fishing days are being sold at prices ranging from $10,000 to $12,500 per day, said Joseph. Locally flagged or based vessels, get a discounted day rate for the approximately 1,800 fishing days they are buying for 2017. Most PNA members — which include Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Nauru, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Tokelau — give discounted prices to locally-based vessels based on their contribution to local developments, including onshore fish processing, employment opportunities and other spinoffs.

PNA limits fishing among its eight members to about 45,800 fishing days annually both as a conservation measure and to maintain prices. The Marshall Islands gets a small share of these days, at fewer than 3,000 fishing days, because the country’s 200 mile exclusive economic zone is on the fringe of the main fishing zones in the western Pacific. Papua New Guinea (over 16,000 days) and Kiribati (over 9,000 days) receive the most fishing days to sell based on past activity in their fishing grounds.

An important development for Marshall Islands is the increasing number of “pool” days that sell for $12,000 per day. A group of PNA members launched the pool plan in 2015, with Marshall Islands contributing nine to the total fishing days in the pool that year, said Joseph. In 2016, RMI bumped its contribution to 190 days and for 2017, it has 352 days in the pool. The pool days command a higher price because they give multiple fishing zone access to any fishing company that buys these pool days. Another benefit of the pool days: “Pool days are paid up front,” said Joseph.

The Marshall Islands is also providing 400 fishing days to the United States purse seine fleet under the recently approved U.S. fishing treaty. These are the highest paying fishing days at over $12,000 each.

MIMRA sold all of its nearly 2,800 fishing days for 2016, which generated $22 million in revenue, Joseph said.

Prior to 2010, when PNA’s vessel day scheme was not fully implemented, the Marshall Islands averaged about $2 million a year in tuna fisheries revenue.

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