The Marshall Islands is watching with interest a new commercial tuna management system launched by Papua New Guinea earlier this year.
The recently implemented system by PNG’s National Fisheries Authority rewards purse seiners for landing tuna to be processed on shore in PNG because this increases job opportunities at tuna canneries and processing facilities in the country.
Prior to January, PNG sold fishing days to companies for lower than the benchmark minimum of $8,000 if they were domestically registered vessels. That changed under the new system, with all purse seiners — domestic and foreign — being treated the same for the purposes of buying fishing days.
But those that off-load tuna for processing in PNG are receiving rebates under the new system. PNG fisheries officials said they changed the system because rules requiring domestic off-loading of certain percentages of the annual catch of purse seiners were being ignored by fishing companies, to the detriment of PNG processing plants.
“The RMI is interested,” said Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority Director Glen Joseph. “We are watching how PNG implements it.”
The RMI provides discounted prices for fishing days under PNA’s vessel day scheme (VDS) to domestically based purse seiners with Koo’s Fishing Company and associated with Pan Pacific Foods’ tuna plant.
“For the RMI, the issue is domestic development,” said Joseph. “In principle, (the PNG system of rebates) could work here, but this is a totally different environment than PNG.” He pointed out that PNG has numerous tuna canneries, thousands of workers engaged in the tuna processing industry, and land for development.
“What PNG is doing is leveraging the VDS to its advantage,” he said.
Read more about this in the June 22, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.