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Tuna processing plant. (Photo: P. Johnson/Copyright: FIS)

New measures to increase employment in tuna processing

Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 02:00 (GMT + 9)

Papua New Guinea (PNG) government plans to put an end to the current practice of discounting on the sale of fishing vessel days in 2018 as well as fishing vessel licence having links with the domestic tuna processing sector, a measure which is expected to create new jobs.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill ordered processors and fishing vessel owners operating in Papua New Guinea waters to review and ensure compliance with State Agreements, after being briefed on such a plan by Fisheries Minister Mao Zeming and the National Fisheries Authority (NFA).

“Our State Agreements, when fully implemented, can generate an additional 16,000 jobs in our regional centres of Lae, Wewak, and Madang,” the Prime Minister said.

O'Neill stressed that as their tuna industry processing capacity is increasing, they are now in a stronger position to ensure more tuna is landed on their shores to be processed for sale to overseas markets.

In addition, the minister explained that the workforce in their tuna processing industry should be more than 24,000 direct jobs with related flow-on business in related sectors.

“We will ensure that our people are able to value-add by processing tuna in Papua New Guinea and earn more dollars from every fish that is caught in our waters,” the minister pointed out.

Under the plan I, the NFA will immediately cease the current practice of discounting the sale price of the vessel days. Besides, the new system will see rebates only given to companies for fish that is processed in Papua New Guinea.

In the minister’s view, this means all businesses that are fishing in their waters will be fully compliant with the State Agreements that they had agreed to and signed. The NFA has been instructed to finalise the plan for the sale of vessel days for 2018 and for this to be concluded by July this year.

An independent report for the NFA had found that less than 25 per cent of fish caught in territorial waters is processed in Papua New Guinea, which implies a loss of PGK 350 million (USD 105.9 million) in direct income and PGK 500 million (USD 151.3 million) from missed taxes.

“In the past a number of these companies had minimal processing in in Papua New Guinea yet benefited substantially from discounted prices for fishing days and sent our fish away to get processed by our competitors in foreign countries,” Minister O’Neill clarified.

The minister concluded that the government’s measures are intended for the benefit of the citizens and not for the benefit of foreign companies.

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