Tuna operations strong in 2023

A tuna unloading in progress at Delap Dock for the nearby Pan Pacific Foods processing plant. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

Tuna transshipments in Majuro in 2023 increased over the previous year, nearly breaking the 300 mark.

The year end strong with 32 transshipments in December — often a slow month, but now this past year. This included 31 transshipments to carrier vessels in the lagoon and one unloading at dock side for freezer container export.

As usual, Taiwan-flagged vessels accounted for the most transshipments last month, with 10. Nauru and Federated States of Micronesia vessels were next, with seven each. RMI-flagged purse seiners had six. Papua New Guinea and Tuvalu vessels each had one.

During last year, a total of 294 purse seiners either transshipped their tuna catches to carrier vessels anchored in the lagoon, or unloaded the tuna at dock side for freezer container shipments to offshore canneries, reported the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority’s Oceanic Division this week.

Of the total 294, five percent involved dock side unloading. Six vessels entirely unloaded their catches for freezer containers storage or for the Pan Pacific Foods processing plant. Another 10 split their catches between transshipment and dock side unloading, according to MIMRA.

MIMRA and local processors are attempting to increase the volume of tuna that flows through shoreside unloading to increase job opportunities to the local community.

MIMRA reported that the 294 vessels transshipped 229,239 metric tons of tuna during 2023. This is an average of 780 metric tons of tuna per vessel. It is lower than the all-time record average of 851 metric tons per transshipment set in 2022, but higher than seven of the last 10 years.

Majuro’s all-time record transshipment high was in 2016, when 551 vessels transshipped their catches. Covid interrupted the transshipment business with a dismal year in 2020 when only 175 vessels transshipped tuna. But it rebounded in 2021 with 298 transshipments followed by 257 in 2022 and 294 last year.

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