Two of seven Koo’s Fishing Company purse seiners recently reflagged in the Federated States of Micronesia. Does this indicate that Koo’s is moving out of RMI and that the high-level of tuna transshipment featured in Port Majuro for the past several years is moving to Pohnpei?
“No” on both counts, though RMI’s fisheries director says the FSM may soon be “the next biggest fisheries thing in the north Pacific.”
Koo’s representative Eugene Muller confirmed that the company has registered two of its vessels in the FSM, but has no intention of moving its Majuro-based operation. He described it as having a “foot in the door” in the FSM.
Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority Director Glen Joseph said it made good business sense for Koo’s to have a “domestic” presence in both the RMI and FSM. “Any fishing company would be smart to have broader access for its boats,” Joseph said.
As to a shift in transshipment operations from Majuro to Pohnpei, Joseph said “every island is trying to develop their ports for transshipment.” He said he had not seen statistics to indicate that there is movement away from Majuro. In fact, a report in last week’s paper, based on statistics provided by MIMRA, showed there were 10 carrier vessels in the lagoon, and 11 transshipments completed or taking place the last week of April, a relatively normal level of tuna transshipment.
Joseph said he sees the FSM continuing to grow in prominence for the north Pacific because of its vast and lucrative fishing grounds. The RMI tends to be on the fringe of the tuna fishing zone, except during El Nino years when tuna schools move east as they have been the past couple of years. “The FSM has the potential to be the Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands of the north,” Joseph said, referring to the large-scale tuna processing and other fisheries operations in those two south Pacific nations.
Read more about this in the May 13, 2016 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.