Tuna Market Intelligence - Issue 50


Prices climbed to $1700 mt for skipjack tuna in January at the Bangkok market, with pundits saying $1800 mt was possible in coming weeks.

Various reasons have been offered for the upward trend with the moves of Thai Union, shortage of tuna arriving in Bangkok, the EU catch and export requirements acting as a bottleneck and other factors.

While fishing for skipjack tuna in the PNA waters is up (see below) it is down overall in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. Furthermore, catches of yellowfin tuna are down, and perhaps will go lower, with the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission reducing catches by 15% in 2017.

It will be interesting to see if the price rise for skipjack tuna continues or plateaus in coming weeks. Some canneries are reportedly filling up frozen inventories which suggests a rise is possible.

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Last quarter fishing boom continues, despite ups and downs

Despite complaints from fishing industry quarters that fishing was down, the PNA Office reported average monthly effort in PNA waters for the last quarter of 2016 was 3586 days up from 2015’s average monthly effort in the last quarter of 3125 days. Taking a longer view, effort has reduced since 2011 when the last quarter monthly effort was around 1000 days more, standing at 4516. One thing that hasn’t changed in effort levels is the importance of the last quarter, with the highest effort of the year over the past six years generally occurring in this end-year rush.

World Economic Forum sets sights on tuna

If scientists assessed the biomass of coalitions and forums around fisheries in the years, it would surely be increasing rapidly. The latest to enter the fray is the World Economic Forum which opened 2017 with its meeting in late January endorsing a new group – the New Vision for the Ocean (NVO).

With a stated focus on fisheries management, science and technology through public-private partnerships, plus backing from the Benioff Ocean Institute,

Conservation International, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund, it will be interesting to see what results from the NVO. Its initial aim is reportedly to scope a public-private strategy on oceans and it appears the tuna industry will be within its sights.

Information from the World Economic Forum website states: “By engaging a critical mass of companies that operate in the tuna industry to high levels of traceability and transparency, this new public-private taskforce seeks to create a new standard that has the potential to be scaled and replicated in other seafood sectors beginning in 2018.” 

Longline catch limit reports suggest bigeye catches generous

Meanwhile, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) Secretariat reported Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), China and US had all notified the Commission they had reached 90% of their catch limit for 2016.

Under the 2015 Conservation and Management Measure, fishing nations are supposed to update the Commission monthly of their catch, with each member being allocated a catch limit. But this late notice (just coming in at end of year for Taiwan) suggests catch limits are not holding back the big fishers.

Scientists have advised a 36% reduction in fishing from 2008-11 fishing levels in order to return the bigeye stock to healthy levels.

Palau wharf upgrade

Palau started 2017 with a bang, and much hammering is to come, as the President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr led the  groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a new wharf for patrol boats on January 23.

Construction will include an administrative building to house the operations of the Division of Marine Law Enforcement (DMLE) — a project funded with grant from Nippon Foundation and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation at a cost of $34 million that is part of a 10-year $70 million assistance provided by the two foundations.

Palau National Marine Sanctuary Executive Director Keobel Sakuma said a local construction company Surangel and Sons Co. won the bidding to construct the $34 million new infrastructure. Sakuma said the local industry will further benefit from it as 10 new patrol officers will be hired and local engineers will be hired to for the vessels.

Tokelau elections gives continuity

Last month tiny Tokelau chose continuity over change with an election that returned many to power in the territory’s representative body, the Fono. Tokelau participates in the PNA’s Vessel Day Scheme and in recent years have become more assertive regarding their fishing rights and development.

The election result was a vote of confidence for the established leadership on the three atolls; and for members of the Council for the Tokelau Government according to Mr Jovilisi Suveinakama, Chief Advisor to the Council and General Manager of Tokelau’s Public Service.

While Tokelau representatives hold New Zealand passports, to stand for election representatives must prove their residency in Tokelau and be nominated at a village meeting. Confirmation of the Ulu o Tokelau (the Chairperson for the six-member Council of the Ongoing Government of Tokelau) and Council will take place in coming weeks. 

Nauru builds ties with Philippines and Korea

Nauru reported its bilateral negotiations for fishing access had concluded successfully last year with deals for around $4 million (Australian Dollars/AUD) secured for 2017.

A $1 million deal was signed with RD Fisheries of Philippines, a new partner for Nauru, with more deals expected and a $3 million deal was inked with the Korea Overseas Fisheries Agency.

The Minister of Fisheries, reporting to Parliament on progress, said these deals had been secured despite low fish prices and La Nina favouring countries to the West.

Tuna Market Intelligence is an independent publication, sponsored by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) to unearth industry and market information from Pacific Island reporters and analysts. Reprint in the media from the PNA countries is free. All other reprints must be authorized. Contact us on marketintel@pnatuna.com or see more on www.pnatuna.com

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