A Philippines businessman says his company had to source processed tuna from Papua New Guinea in order to fill an order for the French market last month, due to a decline in local supplies.
Samuel Senoren says the Philippines industry is fast losing its tuna market in Europe due to soaring production costs and restrictions on fish catches. His voice is one of many in the Philippines calling for the lifting of a ban on deep sea fishing in some areas of the Pacific.
The ban was imposed by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in 2010 to allow bluefin tuna, an endangered species, to spawn unhampered in the eastern high seas.
Senoren says the local industry will need to be ‘rescued’ through ”immediate removal of export levies, real incentives in the form of concessional financing and creative subsidies to go around rules on international trade.”
Senoren describes PNG as the “new kid on the block in the global tuna trade.”
“It will almost certainly deal our country’s tuna presence in EU the coup de grace if no strong government support is forthcoming. Then we can kiss our EU tuna exports goodbye which last year already fell to $359 million from $400 million two years earlier,” he writes.
Under an economic partnership package, PNG’s tuna exports to the EU are accorded duty-free status. In contrast, import duty of 24 percent is levied on Philippine tuna exports to the EU.
Two of PNG’s top tuna producers are investors from the Philippines — RD Tuna Canners Ltd. and Frabelle/Frescomar. However the investment market for tuna processing is opening up in PNG, with Chinese investors expected to make up the bulk of new entrants.
In 2010, PNG’s tuna catch was placed at 749,000 tons, or roughly 17% of world catch.
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