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Pacifical tuna. (Photo Credit: Pacifical)

Purse seiners required to land MSC-certified tuna to local canneries

PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Monday, April 01, 2013, 22:30 (GMT + 9)

In an unprecedented move, Papua New Guinea, the country with the world richest tuna fishing ground, has announced in a circular to all fishing fleets that, as of 1 July 2013, it requires purse seiners to start landing Marine Stewardship Council- (MSC) certified free school skipjack to local PNG canneries.

With a tuna catch of annually close to 750,000 tonnes, Papua New Guinea accounts for about 18 per cent of the world’s tuna supply. It is the first member country of the Pacific’s PNA (Parties to the Nauru Agreement) to give such an instruction to fleet owners operating within its EEZ.

Sylvester Pokajam, managing director of the country’s National Fisheries Authority (NFA), explains -in the circular to boat owners operating in PNG waters- that his country wants to promote conservation of the tuna resources and boost sustainable fishing according to the MSC ecolabel standard. PNG is looking to boost the supply of MSC-free school tuna to local processing plants, create more local jobs, and add value to its tuna.

The PNG NFA states that locally-based but also foreign distant water fleets fishing under Bilateral Access Arrangements, such as the Federated States of Micronesia (FSMA) Arrangement, Palau Arrangement and the US Multilateral Fisheries Treaty (UST), are all required to follow the instruction.

The NFA wants purse seiners to start offloading –as of 1 July 2013- 100 per cent of MSC-eligible free-school catch to PNG based onshore processing plants such as International Food Cooperation (IFC), RD (PNG) Ltd, Frabelle PNG Ltd, SSTC, Majestic Seafoods, Nambawan Seafoods and other regional plants associated with the PNA’s Pacifical MSC programme.

“Tuna fishing companies that are currently not participating in the PNA MSC scheme should immediately apply to join, and training can be provided on a cost recovery basis,” says the NFA.

The Authority writes that, “any fleets that are part of the PNA’s MSC group arrangement, which is required for MSC eligible landing, should be able to obtain an increased price for their MSC free school catch, if delivering through canneries which cooperate with Pacifical, the PNA’s marketing company.”

The NFA offers companies who are complying with this policy a discount on the price of their 2014 access fees as an incentive, which will be negotiated in the latter part of this year.

The NFA is recommending fleets to give this requirement sufficient immediate considerations. Fleet owners should have demonstrated their commitment prior to the next bilateral access negotiations for 2014 licensing period.

Along with the fact that Pokajam states that the conditions for MSC certified fish will be included in the access agreements in the next licensing period, PNG shows that it wants serious and continuous participation of fleets with the PNA’s Pacifical/MSC scheme in 2013 but also in the longer term future. 

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