Papua New Guinea holds successful ‘fishing days’ tender

Majuro — The CEO of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) recognized Papua New Guinea’s National Fisheries Authority for conducting a successful public tender of fishing days for 2015.
“The tender is allowing Papua New Guinea to maximize the value of the fishing days it is allotted under PNA’s vessel day scheme,” said PNA CEO Dr. Transform Aqorau on Monday. “By putting fishing days out for public tender, the National Fisheries Authority allowed the industry to put a value on fishing.”
PNA set US$8,000 as the minimum benchmark for a fishing day in PNA waters in 2015. But in the Papua New Guinea tender completed in late October, some days were sold for as much as US$12,000.
Through the tender, the National Fisheries Authority restructured the number of days allocated to domestic and distant water fishing nation vessels. It also addressed the ongoing problem that offloading tuna for domestic processing has not kept pace with requirements for distant water vessels or concessions provided to domestic vessels.
The tender put distant water fishing nations on notice that compliance with agreements will be enforced, pointing out that despite fishing access agreements requiring fishing boats to land 10 percent of their catches for processing in PNG, “not one fish has ever been landed for processing.” Moreover, the National Fisheries Authority also noted that “concessional days” provided for domestic vessels to fish in PNG archipelagic waters and its 200-mile exclusive economic zone that do not show an increased level of tuna processed in 2015 “will be reviewed.”
Every company that fished in PNG waters in 2013 received 20 percent of its 2013 allocation of days at the US$8,000 benchmark price for 2015. The tender allowed companies to bid for up to 70 percent of their 2013 usage, with the proviso that “some will only receive the base 20 percent if their bid price is low.”
“This way,” said the tender issued publicly by the National Fisheries Authority, “each player in the fishery can make a conscious decision on the value to them, to get additional days to fish and have a day’s ‘right’ to use during the year, to fish whenever they want it, with no race to fish.”
In the past, fishing companies operated from days in a “pool” that caused a race to fish as companies sharing pool days feared they would lose out on access to days if they didn’t fish early in the year. “Under the previous system, if a boat owner didn’t fish early in the year, by July the pool of days available might have been exhausted so they would lose out,” explained Dr. Aqorau. Under the PNG tender for 2015, individual boats are gaining access to days. “They can make a commercial decision to use efficient boats to fish,” he said. “And they can decide when to fish. If they don’t want to fish in January, they can wait until later in the year to see if the world market price for tuna is higher. They won’t lose the days they won in the tender.”
Dr. Aqorau commended PNG’s National Fisheries Authority for holding the public tender for fishing days. “The National Fisheries Authority’s just-concluded tender has set the pace for the PNA,” Dr. Aqorau said. “Other PNA members are watching this development, and I hope they will conduct similar public tenders in the future to maximize the benefits of the fishery for our islands.”
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Note to editors:
The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) are eight Pacific Island countries that control the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery. Member nations are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.

PNA has been a champion for marine conservation and management, taking unilateral action to conserve overfished bigeye tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, including closures of high seas pockets, seasonal bans on use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD), satellite tracking of boats, in port transshipment, 100 percent observer coverage of purse seiners, closed areas for conservation, mesh size regulations, tuna catch retention requirements, hard limits on fishing effort, prohibitions against targeting whale sharks, shark action plans, and other conservation measures to protect the marine ecosystem.

For more information, contact Dr. Transform Aqorau, CEO, PNA Office, on email: transform@pnatuna.com or by phone (692) 625-7626.