The 15th INFOFISH World Tuna Trade Conference & Exhibition ended on a high note on the 30th of May, thanks to the magnificent support from participants (almost 600 representing all regions), exhibitors, world-class speakers, collaborating partners and sponsors.

 In bringing the World Tuna Trade Conference to a close, the Conference Chair Dr Transform Aqorau summarized the deliberations and themes that had been brought to the fore over the past three days. Underpinning all the discussions, he said, was the key concept of sustainability both above and below the water level. Innovation was another main idea that had cropped up over and over again, including innovation in markets, products, and harvesting. The development of partnerships was the third main pillar that has emerged in the Conference and in the next 5 to 10 years, these partnerships will affect a change in behaviour. He talked about the changes in market and consumer trends worldwide. One possible gap that he thought could be addressed in the next Conference in 2020 is the position of China as a huge potential market. He predicted that if the Chinese were to start eating tuna in a big way, the landscape could be different in the future. Social responsibility, gender, human rights abuses are other concepts which we have to keep discussing. Dr Aqorau also asked the question: What are the drivers of technology? Blockchain technology, for instance, is fairly new and likely to occupy an expanding place in the industry in the future.  For the moment, the business sector is making great strides in innovation but this has to be combined in partnership with governments.

On a final note, Ms Shirlene Maria Anthonysamy, Acting Director of INFOFISH, took the opportunity to express sincere thanks to the participants, speakers, and chairpersons for making the Conference a truly world-class event, as evidenced by the quality of discussion observed and information shared, as well as the level of networking and business matching that had occurred. She also thanked the co-organisers and collaborating organisations Department of Fisheries Thailand, Thai Tuna Industry Association (TTIA), IATTC, IOTC, WCPFC, FAO, ANFACO, INFOPESCA, INFOPECHE, INFOSAMAK, INFOYU, EUROFISH; ATUNA; UndercurrentNews, Intrafish , Platinum Sponsor MIFCO (Maldives) and the staff of INFOFISH.

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 Chaired by Dr Darian McBain, Global Director of Sustainable Development, Thai Union Group  PCL (Thailand), this Session was entitled “Sustainability, Enboironmeht and Eco-labelling in the Tuna Industry’.

At- sea monitoring, a rapidly expanding  field where the latest innovations are taking place, was covered  by Mr Faustino Velasco, CEO of Satlink (Spain),  Mr Thue Barfod, Global Head of the Fish & Seafood Cargo Segment (Maersk Hong Kong) , and Mr Les Shortall, Market Development Manager , Inmarsat Maritime (UK). 

Satlink’s Sea Tube system and Machine Learning feature is able to estimate catches on purse seine and longline vessels, geofencing, as well as electronic monitoring of FAD activities, structures and materials. Conditions on-board are also able to be monitored, which aids in preventing human rights abuses at sea. Mr Velasco ended by stating the importance of cross-sectoral collaboration: technology + science+ industry.

Mr Thue Barfod spoke about the challenges the company has gone through until 2017, when it launched its Remote Container Management system. Added to its unique trade financing feature and blockchain initiatives which help to reduce the cost and time in keeping track of documents, Maersk promises customers security and simplicity (a one stop shop for shipping and finance).   

Inmarsat’s satellite connectivity covering ship and shore enables users of the technology to maintain modern on-board communications,  including distress calls, texts, emails, and the like; blockchain traceability;  onboard electronic observer and security monitoring ability; and keeping electronic catch records.  On Inmarsat’s ability to enforce, Mr  Shortall listed a series of benefits: tracking and monitoring; more effective enforcement; more informed policy making; safety of fishermen; smarter fishing; and fishermen staying connected to family and friends.

Mr William Kowalski, President, Hawaii International Seafood Inc (USA) spoke about new innovations, technology trends and market acceptance in the high value tuna category. Tasteless smoke (TS) and carbon monoxide (CO) product groups continue to experience the  most significant financial growth in the high value category. The key factors here are stringent food safety and new processing technologies such as gas flow needles, high pressure oxygen treatment, and special tuna loin boxes, which result in these premium products. There is a trend towards tasteless smoke (Canada, Australia, and NZ do not allow CO but will accept TS items). In addition, thanks to GRAS approval and the royalty-free status for TS tuna  in the US,  the prices have doubled as compared to a few years ago. In the frozen category, products treated with antioxidants have entered the market but these so far have not received the same high market acceptance as TS and CO products.

The discussion on blockchains continued with Alfred “Bubba” Cook’s presentation entitled “WWF & Blockchain. Technology and innovation is a fairly recent but vital focus of WWF, which explains its participation in the (ethereum) blockchain revolution to achieve a range of objectives, including traceability.  Using its  tuna blockchain project in Fiji as a case study, WWF utilises  RFID and QR codes to capture information throughout the supply chain, with the  data being  registered  automatically, which the consumer  in the end markets will also be able to gain access to.  Blockchains, according to Mr Cook, will ensure a safer more informed future for all.

Tuna byproduct utilization was presented on by Ms Rose Mueda, Research Associate, University of the Philippines Visayas. Waste from processing still contains good quality protein (about 50-65%); thus utilization of this waste is important. Examples include tuna jerky, pharmaceuticals and neutraceuticals, and protein extracts. In a University project, tuna jerky was found to have good market potential but for other items such as tuna sauce, histamine assessment has to be done. She ended by calling on research institutions to work together with the industry to find better ways to utilize byproduct.

An interesting overview of Pacific bluefin ranching in Japan was given by Mr Shukei Masuma , General Director, Aquaculture Research Institute, Kindai University (Japan). As at December 2017, there are some 177 farms, of which 60 use artificially acquired seedlings, the technology for which was developed at Kindai. He listed the benefits of these seedlings as contributing to sustainability; traceability from broodstock to end products; and food safety. Kindai will continue to focus on further development of rearing techniques to increase survival and stock improvement; and also to develop formulated feeds using less fishmeal, and reduced usage of antibiotics, etc.

Dr Arlene Nietes Satapornvanit , Gender Integration & Capacity Building Specialist,  USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (Thailand) spoke about gender considerations in tuna fisheries. Starting with a mention of the relevant gender-specific global and regional instruments, she presented an overview of the Partnership’s research initiatives including the results of analyses conducted at Bitung (Indonesia) and General Santos (Philippines). As expected there are few women at the decision making level and indeed throughout the value chain in all sectors (except as workforce) will help in developing gender sensitive-policies aimed at expanding the space at all levels for women in the fisheries industry.

The last speaker of the conference was Dr Valerie Allain, Senior Fisheries Scientist, Pacific Community (New Caledonia), who spoke about the impact of climate change on tuna resources. Elaborating on climate change models, she explained that ocean temperatures have generally risen by a few degrees. These changes will affect the distribution of all tuna species, as was demonstrated in the models which contrasted the situation now and in the year 2050.

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Attendees at this year’s 3rd Bali Tuna Conference (BTC) and 6th International Coastal Tuna Business Forum (ICTBF) events will be the first stakeholders to learn specific details of the harvest strategy for tropical tuna in archipelagic waters. Developed by the Indonesian authorities, this much-awaited policy is a vital component in the implementation of sustainable fisheries management. These consecutive, top-level events will provide the ideal platform for delegates to help influence its delivery.

Work on a draft harvest strategy and a harvest control rule for skipjack and yellowfin tuna in Fisheries Management Areas (FMAs) 713, 714, and 715 began in December 2014. National efforts have been led by Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF), the Directorate of Fish Resource Management, the Directorate General of Capture Fisheries and relevant stakeholders and progressed through several technical meetings and consultations.

“A lot of time and endeavor have already gone into getting the harvest strategy framework and the definition of the harvest control rule to the stages that they are now at. At this year’s Bali Tuna Conference and International Coastal Tuna Business Forum, the ‘Interim Harvest Strategy Document’ will be revealed for the first time. Because it will have consequences across the whole tuna sector, it’s very important that as many stakeholders as possible attend these meetings. Their understanding and engagement will help to ensure a thorough consultation phase, while the harvest strategy will show supply chains that Indonesian tuna is sustainable and managed responsibly to international standards,” says Trian Yunanda of MMAF.

In having a harvest strategy in place, Indonesia’s fishery managers will be able to act swiftly and efficiently within a pre-agreed framework to ensure that tuna harvests do not exceed acceptable limits. This will safeguard the sustainability of the resources and the consistent supply of fish to communities and markets. Once successfully implemented in FMA 713, 714, and 715, the intention is to replicate the strategy in other Indonesian waters and with other species.

In addition to the development of the harvest strategy, the Indonesian Government has identified four further tuna fishery priorities for 2018: improvements of the tuna data collection and the vessel registration systems; the development of a fish aggregating device (FAD) management plan; the development of electronic reporting systems; and revision of the regulations for tuna fishing activities on the high seas. Delegates at this year’s BTC and ICTBF can therefore look forward to an update on these important government policies. It will also provide them with a better understanding of the opportunities to connect these Indonesian fisheries with international markets and give them better insights of related social programmes and initiatives. The conferences will open with an official address from Honourable Susi Pudjiastuti, Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of the Republic of Indonesia.

“As Indonesia is the world’s leading tuna producing nation with currently 571,000 tonnes per year, not only do these two successful events provide an important platform through which we demonstrate the very important socioeconomic contributions that our tuna fisheries make, they also allow the Government of Indonesia to show the long-term support that it is providing to the tuna value chain. In addition, these events present the perfect opportunity for international brands and retailers interested in sourcing tuna from Indonesia to build relationships with local stakeholders,” says Trian Yunanda.

Taking place at the Padma Hotel, Bali, Indonesia, BTC and ICTBF are again being hosted by MMAF and supported by the International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF), the non-profit association that is committed to developing and supporting responsible one-by-one tuna fisheries and supply chains, and the one-by-one tuna industry body Asosiasi Perikanan Pole & Line dan Handline Indonesia (AP2HI).

BTC and ICTBF were first incorporated into a single programme in 2016 – bringing diverse but interrelated sectors even closer together to ensure the ecologically, socially and economically sustainable development of Indonesia’s tuna fisheries. Leading international tuna brands and retailers who are looking to establish improved access to sustainable tuna resources will attend the events, where they will be joined by members of the commercial catching and processing sectors, NGOs and government officials.

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More than 12,000 fishermen will start the tuna capture in the Mexican territorial sea of ​​the Pacific Ocean and foreign jurisdictional waters that are in the area of ​​regulation of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), starting on January 20, when it concludes the ban period.

The species that are caught in this area are yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus), bluefin (Thunnus orientalis) and skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis).

The tuna fishery is very important for Mexico because of its contribution to the food sector and the regional economy, since this activity generates around 70,000 jobs, direct and indirect, as well as more than 100,000 tonnes of products with high nutritional value.

Due to its volume and value, the tuna fishery is positioned in the second place of the fishing production in Mexico, the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (CONAPESCA) highlights. It is also one of the most sustainable, a feature that has been recognized by FAO when it awarded the Margarita Lizárraga Medal to Sustainable Fishing, and recently the certification to the national fleet of this fishery, by the Marine Stewardship Council ( MSC).

According to preliminary figures from the IATTC, from January 1 to December 3, 2017, the Mexican tuna fleet caught 109,533 tonnes of tuna in the waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean, representing 18.5 percent of the total catches in that area.

Source: FIS

Tuna capture. (Photo: SAGARPA)

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The conservationist organization WWF, in partnership with several companies, will introduce into the Pacific Islands tuna industry, a revolutionary technology that can help eradicate illegal fishing and human rights abuses.

The project, which is the first of its kind in the region, involves WWF New Zealand, WWF Australia and WW Fiyi, together with the technology innovation company ConsenSys, the information and communications technology (ICT) implementer TraSeable and the fishing and processing company of tuna Sea Quest Fiji Ltd.

The Blockchain Traceability Project traces fish from fishing vessels to supermarkets using digital technology in the fresh and frozen tuna sectors of the western and central Pacific region. This way, it helps to strengthen the supply chain management.

According to the executive director of WWF New Zealand, Livia Esterhazy, this project will drastically improve people`s lives and protect the environment through smart and sustainable fisheries.

Using a smart phone application, consumers will be able to scan tuna packaging to find out where the fish was caught, what fishing vessel did it, and what methods of capture were employed. The "Blockchain" technology will ensure that people buy legally caught tuna, which is not the product of slave labor or oppressive conditions.

Currently, the purchase and sale of Pacific tuna is tracked through paper records or not registered at all. Now, on the other hand, fishermen can register their catch on the blockchain through radio-frequency identification (RFID) e-tagging and scanning fish.

Now steps are underway to find a retailer to partner in the project and use blockchain to complete the tuna’s traceability story. 

ConsenSys, one of the leaders in the development of blockchain technology, is working with WWF and Sea Quest to test and implement the traceability tool of the Viant platform in the supply chain of the Pacific tuna industry.

Tyler Mulvihill, co-founder and head of business development at, said that they are interested in supporting technology applications that offer an opportunity for a positive social impact. He also emphasized his enthusiasm to continue working with WWF and Sea Quest Fiji.

For his part, Brett Haywood, CEO of Sea Quest Fiji, said that this project provides a unique opportunity to take the industry to higher levels, and highlighted his satisfaction to work with the three WWF offices.

TraSeable Solutions CEO, Ken Katafono, also expressed his enthusiasm to provide technical support to this project, given that he considers that it will transform the traceability of the seafood supply chain in the Pacific and also around the world.

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The latest report in IPNLF’s Technical Series evaluates fuel use intensity in the Maldivian pole-and-line tuna fishery and determines them to be fuel efficient.

Fuel Use Intensity (FUI), the amount of fuel used to catch a tonne of fish, gives a first impression of the carbon footprint of fishery products. Previous studies have estimated that marine capture fisheries used over 42 million tonnes of fuel, releasing around 134 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In spite of these big numbers, analysis of the fuel of specific fisheries is limited, with notable data deficiencies for small-scale fisheries and those in less developed countries.

In order to better understand the level of fuel use associated with one-by-one tuna fisheries, IPNLF commissioned a study to quantify fuel use in the Maldivian pole-and-line tuna fishery. Evidence was compiled from three separate sources: observer records (collected through the IPNLF Fisheries Observer initiative), government records and private processing company records.

The study estimates that FUI for Maldivian pole-and-line caught tuna was between 197-328 litres per tonne of fish caught. This is approximately 40% of the average FUI for global fishing fleets and slightly lower than data previously reported for purse-caught tuna. The report concludes that the Maldivian pole-and-line tuna fishery can be considered to be relatively fuel efficient compared to other fisheries. Other research points to tuna production as a relatively low carbon emitting process, particularly when compared to terrestrial forms of meat production. So, for environmentally conscious consumers, this, in combination with low levels of bycatch and minimal impacts on the marine environment, is further evidence of the low environmental impacts of these fisheries and another reason to select pole-and-line caught tuna products.

“I am pleased that the fuel use intensity estimates in the Maldives are now better understood. We are proud of our pole-and-line tuna fishery, one the cleanest and greenest fishing methods with minimal impacts on the environment,” said Dr Mohamed Shainee, the Maldives’ Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture.

“As a low-lying coastal state, the Maldives are already experiencing the detrimental impacts of climate change. As such, we are taking an aggressive approach to reducing our carbon footprint through our commitment to one-by-one tuna fisheries. We are continually trialling new technology aimed at making our fisheries even more efficient and sustainable through initiatives such as the Concept Vessel Project where we are experimenting with bird radars and on board fish refrigeration systems.”

Source: World Fishing

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Multiple bluefin farms in Japan are set to drastically increase shipments of closed-cycle tuna, for which the entire cycle of reproduction is carried out in the captive state. 

Nagoya-based trading company Toyota Tsusho Corp. has had a technical tie-up since 2010 with Kinki University – the first to succeed in closed-cycle bluefin breeding – and now operates two tuna farms, in Okinawa and Nagasaki prefectures. A subsidiary, Tuna Dream Goto, operates a bluefin nursery in Goto City, Nagasaki Prefecture. The university sells under the Kindai Tuna brand.

The business plan for the nursery center envisaged annual production of 60,000 fry in the fiscal year ended in March 2017, with the focus on acquiring skills for cultivated nursery production. In the 2018 fiscal year, the operation is scheduled to go into full-scale mass production, with an output of 200,000 fry. The number is then planned to rise by an additional 50,000 annually in 2019 and 2020. The fry are moved from the nursery center to nearby offshore nets to grow into juveniles. Then they are transferred to Okinawa for further growth. The whole process from hatching to harvest takes about three years. Current annual production of fattened tuna is now 3,500 to 4,000 fish, with plans to raise that to 6,000 in 2020. About 2,000 fish are expected to be exported annually. 

Another farming operation, run by Maruha Nichiro, which was the first private company to master closed-cycle bluefin breeding, is also taking off. Tokyo-based Maruha Nichiro Corp.’s bluefin operations, operated by subsidiary Amami Yougyo, are located off Amami Oshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture. The operation began commercial shipments in 2015, with substantial amounts shipped from 2016. They have opened a new aquaculture site for hatchery-reared juveniles in Oita Prefecture to be used as hatchery yields increase. In 2020, the company expects its total output of bluefin to be 4,300 metric tons (MT). An individual fish at harvest typically weighs 50 kilograms, so that works out to nearly 54,000 fish. The company has contracted to supply the fish to the Aeon supermarket chain.

Two other operations are also making progress. Kyokuyo Co., Ltd., based in Tokyo and working with Feed One Co. Ltd. of Yokohama, a feed producer that has formulated special blends for bluefin using scallop byproducts, expects to start shipments in fiscal 2017. It will supply 200 tons of closed-cycle bluefin in fiscal 2018 under the Tunagu brand. The company has developed fish farms off Kochi and Ehime prefectures. And Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo, also aims to ship 10,000 tuna, or 500 MT in fiscal 2018 and 1,000 MT in fiscal 2019 from its Oita Marine Biological Technology Center under the Kitsuna Gold Label brand.

Getting tuna to breed, and the juveniles to survive, is difficult. They breed only over the age of five, and under particular conditions. Kinki University (Kindai) in Wakayama Prefecture was the first to succeed in captive breeding, using six- and seven year-old tuna, but initial survivability was low. Of the 190,000 eggs they hatched in 2009, only about 40,000, or 0.5 percent, survived to the fingerling stage. There is additional mortality after that, especially when transferring to ocean pens.

However, over several years of trial production, survivability has been brought up to a level which, though still low, may contribute to the bottom line. The bigger payoff is expected if and when the harvesting of juveniles for stocking aquaculture pens is banned, due to further decline of the species. Until that happens, it is still cheaper and more profitable to stock pens with wild-caught fish.

Closed-cycle breeding is considered more sustainable than harvesting wild juveniles, as it does not deplete the wild stock, though it still takes a lot of wild fish, such as mackerel, to fatten the tuna, which have a low feed conversion ration compared to other farmed fish like salmon.

Investors seem to be betting on the further decline of the bluefin stock – a pretty safe bet, considering continued overfishing. The share prices of Maruha Nichiro Corp., Kyokuyo Co., Ltd., Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Ltd. and Feed One Co., Ltd. have risen sharply in 2017, as their investments in closed-cycle Pacific bluefin tuna farming appear set to add to their profits.

Source by:

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Tuesday, 03 October 2017 18:37

Japan - Fresh/chilled sashimi tuna

Tsukiji fish market auction - the current landing volume lessened to 13 MT level with decrease local catches from northern waters due to typhoon in last week; Okinawa-origin bigeye and yellowfin are now covering up for the supply shortage although the volume are small. Meantime, sea-caught air flown Southern bluefin from Cape town (arrived 20pcs, 7th morning) and Jumbo bluefin from Boston are arriving at 20pcs/day base. In addition, Norway-origin bluefin is arriving (7th morning, 30pcs), hence, the recent prices have strengthened in general.

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A new electronic approach to monitoring tuna fishing fleets is being tested to improve the timeliness and accuracy of catch data, the transparency of tuna supply chains, and the safety of on-board observers. Key to the new approach are a set of electronic reporting apps for fishing boats and port officials developed in response to this persistent problem.

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Thursday, 19 October 2017 18:37


13-14 September, 2017
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
The 6th INFOFISH Pacific Tuna Forum was convened at the Stanley Hotel in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea against the backdrop of high tuna prices, low catches globally and a concerted attack by a grouping of NGOs and academics on the MSC certification of the PNA’s free school skipjack.

Once again, Papua New Guinea hosted a well organised Pacific Tuna Forum with a kaleidoscope of speakers with a diverse range of experiences in the tuna world from fisheries management to development, traceability and eco-labeling. There were initial challenges with the electrical supply that impacted on the delivery of the Keynote Address by the Executive Director of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and others, but that did not take away from the importance of those presentations to the current state of play of tuna in the Pacific.

The Forum was officially opened by the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea who issued a stern warning to the domestic industry in particular, and generally to the broader tuna industry operating in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean [WCPO]. He underlined the importance of ensuring the sustainability of the stocks and highlighted the recent agreement reached at the Pacific Forum Leaders Meeting in Apia, Samoa, earlier in the month where members of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission [WCPFC] supported zone-based measures.

It was interesting to note this strong warning that the Prime Minister issued to their domestic industry, given the level of investments that have taken place in Papua New Guinea over the past 15 years. It was obvious that the Prime Minister was echoing a degree of frustration within certain quarters of the Papua New Guinean Government over the amount of tuna that is exported from PNG-licensed vessels that are associated with processing plants. Also noteworthy is the fact that Papua New Guinea has been able to successfully leverage access to its waters with the development of shore-based industries.
However, recent trends in effort and catch appear to show a shift in the 2005-2012 fishing patterns away from Papua New Guinea. It is not clear if it will become a permanent feature of the fishery where the effort over the past 3 to 4 years has been concentrated along a narrower band around the equator, further north from Papua New Guinea. This shift, in my humble view, might impinge upon the domestic industry and impact on the leverage that Papua New Guinea once had. The Prime Minister’s harsh warning to the domestic industry may come back to haunt them if indeed the changing fishing patterns that have been observed in the past three years become a permanent feature of the fishery.

The Keynote Address was given by Feleti Teo, Executive Director of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WFCPF). Mr. Teo spoke about the role of the WCPFC, and the challenges and opportunities that it provides for its members to work collaboratively in the management of their shared stocks. One of the unique defining characteristics of the WCPFC is that it is responsible for the management and conservation of the world’s largest tuna stocks and involves the most range of countries in terms of their political economy. Mr. Teo highlighted the characteristics of the tuna fisheries coming under the purview of the WCPFC in 2016. A total tuna catch of 2 717 850 tonnes was recorded, of which 69% or 1 858 198 tonnes was caught by purse seine vessels, underlining the dominance of purse seine fishing in the region’s tuna fishery. In terms of the composition of the catch by species, 67% or 1 816 650 tonnes was skipjack tuna, followed by 650 491 tonnes of yellowfin and 152 806 tonnes of bigeye tuna.

Mr. Teo also highlighted the economic value of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) fishery which was worth US$5.28 billion in 2016 for all fisheries. The purse seine fishery was worth $2.84 billion while the longline fishery was worth $1.48 billion, signifying the balance of benefits clearly resting with the purse seine fishery. He underlined the importance of ensuring the sustainability of the tuna stocks and the need to put the biological health of the stocks at the heart of conservation and management efforts. It was a timely reminder to the Forum because there would be no industry to speak of if there were no healthy tuna stocks.

Session I: Resources and supply
It was only appropriate that Session 1 began the Forum, exploring the underlying issues pertaining to the health of the stocks and the impact of climate change, following on from the appeal by the Executive Director of the WCPFC to put the biological health of the stocks at the heart of the region’s conservation and management endeavours.

In this regard, the presentation on the development of harvest strategies underlined the key message by Mr. Teo in his Keynote Address of the work that the WCPFC was working on to develop well defined strategies and also harvest control rules for the WCPO tuna fisheries. The actual process involved in the development of the harvest strategies and harvest control rules were highlighted in this Session. Of particular interest to the Forum was the outcome of the most recent stock assessment for bigeye tuna and the findings that the situation is not as bad as had been previously assessed. This was obviously a surprise to the industry as the message that has been persistently portrayed in the past is that the bigeye tuna stocks are overfished. The underlying message is that stock assessment can be uncertain depending on the parameters used in the models and therefore fisheries managers have to be careful about how they interpret the resulting assessments.

The discussions on the impacts of climate change on stocks and future fishing patterns provided a snapshot of the modeling that has been done with regard to the shifts in fishing patterns and the effect of sea surface temperature fluctuations arising from climate change. This was a topic of interest to the Forum because it will have an impact on fishing patterns in the future and how the industry accesses fishing opportunities.

The Session concluded with a presentation and discussion on the PNA Vessel Day Scheme. Although it is not directly linked to the state of the health of the resources, it is the major means through which the purse seine fishery (the dominant fishery in the WCPO) is managed, and has some implications on the future shifts in fishing patterns. The Scheme includes provisions for trading of days, a mechanism that was built in to allow for those Parties from the East to trade days with those from the West during high El Nino and La Nina years.

Session II: Tuna industry and investment opportunities
There were excellent presentations from an array of very experienced speakers on the subject of the tuna industry and the investment opportunities that exist in the region. The Forum was informed about the developments with respect to the Road Map which is the guiding document that Pacific Island countries hold up as providing the way forward on investments. It was reiterated that the political leaders of the Pacific Island countries are serious about ensuring that they increase the economic benefits that flow from investments in the tuna industry.

There were country presentations from Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands during which the hurdles that they face in promoting the tuna industry were highlighted. In spite of the perceived difficulties in investing in these countries and the high costs of utilities that are required for investment, the low labour costs, particularly in Solomon Islands, was an attractive element for investors.

Representatives from the domestic industries spoke about the high cost of doing business in the Islands, basically the same problems that have been highlighted during past Forums. These were however offset by insightful presentations on the diverse range of products that may be extracted from tuna, and on the work being undertaken by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency on facilitating investments in the Pacific Island countries. The take-home message was that the isolated and scattered location of the Islands and the high utility costs makes doing business difficult, but it is not insurmountable.

The fact that there are operators who have invested and are doing well by staying the course is evidence that an investment in the Islands is indeed viable.

Perhaps the highlight of this Session was the presentation on mini-canneries (canning units which are small enough to fit onto a kitchen table), an initiative undertaken in some of the smaller Island countries. Bycatch from tuna transshipped in port is packed in its raw state in cans, cooked in a domestic pressure cooker, and sold in niche markets. While the mini-canneries are small scale and more family based operations, the potential to produce niche products for particular markets may be an attraction. It might not provide the full scale employment that industrial scale canneries provide, but it certainly provides an alternative in utilising the bycatch which would otherwise be wasted.

Some of the advantages of investing in the region that were highlighted at the Forum included proximity to the resource; this has also spawned the development of the fresh sashimi longline industry in some of the Island countries and generally reduced the costs of tuna for processing. These factors, combined with market access/ trade preferences with the EU under Cotonou and the US under CFA, made it attractive to invest in the region, although the last few years has seen preferences eroding and difficulties associated with SPS issues. The biggest advantage that the Forum heard was that the Pacific Island countries could control access to productive EEZs, which allowed them to manage the resources and leverage onshore investments.

Session III: Global tuna trade and markets
A key to understanding the trends and developments in the tuna industry is to appreciate what is happening around the globe with the tuna trade and the markets in the different regions. Session III was an excellent opportunity for the Forum to hear about the latest trends in the global tuna markets. Participants heard an analysis of international market frameworks and trade dynamics and some of the trends in ensuring greater transparency and dialogue towards inclusive trade for tuna, and also how the European market needed tuna from the Pacific Islands.

There was a lot of interest from the Forum on the global tuna trade trends and both traditional markets and the emerging ones as well such as Europe. The Forum heard about the liberalisation of the Latin American market for canned tuna and the prospects for a new era of open cooperation and takeovers in the Asia Pacific. The discussions were revealing, providing additional opportunities for a market that businesses in Asia and the Pacific once thought of as difficult to get into. The underlying message from the analysis of these trends is that there is a worldwide growth in demand and liberalisation of tariffs and barriers. For instance, demand by younger Latin Americans for designer goods made in Asia have changed perceptions and attitudes towards trading with the Asia Pacific community.

The presentation on the markets in the Middle East was quite captivating. This is not a market that is well known to the Pacific Island domestic tuna industries, but it certainly offers an alternative area for international trade other than Europe, Thailand and the United States. The Forum heard that the Middle East is big enough and easy enough to enter to make it a market of focus, with none of the tariff difficulties associated with other markets. Participants heard that all variants/quality of tuna products could find a market there with price competitiveness being of paramount concern in a large section of the market. The current high price of tuna provides a good opportunity to beat Thailand’s advantage of clustering.

Some of the key features of Latin American markets highlighted at the Forum that is of interest to global trade include the fact that 9% of world GDP (US$3.5 trillion) comes from the region. It has a population of 480 million in 33 countries and a life expectancy increasing to +80yrs with urbanisation already at 85%. These factors alone make the Latin American market an attractive destination with huge prospects for increased tuna consumption.

This was indeed a very useful session that opened up the participants to the various possibilities that exist in the international market place.

Session IV: Financing tuna projects
Financing of tuna projects, whether it is by governments or by the private sector, is always a challenge because of the risks involved. An often forgotten aspect of the tuna industry is the role that final institutions can play not only in ensuring that companies operate to the highest social and environmental standards, but also that they uphold the highest standards of sustainability. The Forum heard about the work of the International Finance Corporation in providing financing within the renewable sector/sustainable fisheries sector in the Pacific region, the obstacles in the development of the industry, and the challenges that the financial institutions faced when supporting fisheries projects include the development of the necessary infrastructure to support the industry. These include infrastructure related to the construction of ports, airports, the provision of power and water and the high costs of fuel, electricity, freight, supplies and the lack of economies of scale and competition.

The banks also had to try and weave around the issues of land particularly of the availability of land that has security of tenure, and the availability, costs and skills of the existing labour market. However, the Forum heard that these problems were not insurmountable and were being overcome in some countries. The difference was in the policy environment. The Forum was also informed that the PNA Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) has been a game changer for the purse seine industry in greatly increasing the value of access.

There were two interesting aspects to this Session and they included the investments by the social security organisation of Solomon Islands, the National Provident Fund, and its experiences in investing in the domestic tuna industry; as well as Fish 2.0, an innovative venture capital facilitator that pitches possible projects with investors. Thus the main message here is that financial institutions can work with the industry to help it grow and develop. Some of the essential ingredients for the projects that are to be financed include having a strong management team and board with knowledge of the market and customers and the ability to execute ideas and communicate opportunities.

Session V: sustainability, eco-labeling and technological development
The fifth and final Session covered a broad range of areas from social accountability issues related to crewing and the latest technological developments with regard to management of data generated from the fishery. A panel discussion on eco-labels concluded the Session.

Social accountability with regard to crewing conditions is an emerging human rights issue that cannot be ignored by the industry. The Forum was informed about the latest developments in ensuring that crewing and the conditions of those working in the fishing industry are adequately protected. The key recommendations on crewing conditions included spreading awareness of the ILO C188 to avoid any forms of labour exploitation; building capacity to establish and manage information systems to account for crew welfare compliance; increasing transparency and traceability in the tuna fishing sector and tuna value chain; and increasing the level of enforcement and compliance in port, coastal and flag states. A concomitant development that is closely related to crewing and other social accountability issues is catch documentation systems (CDS) and dealing with illegal, unregulated and unreported [IUU] fishing. Improved catch documentation will generally make it more difficult for IUU fishing to expand, and also improve the management of crewing and other social accountability systems and processes.

It was only appropriate that the presentations on social accountability and IUU fishing were followed by a session on technological developments because there is a close nexus between improved documentation and the use of technology to improve fisheries management and development in all its aspects. It is clear that long-term sustainable fishing is based on the improvement of quality data collection from the fishing fleet, and that technology can help provide this data to governments, RFMOs, ship owners and scientists. Satlink E-Monitoring and iFIMS and FIMS is a definite integrated tool for fishing fleet management and control that integrate VMS and catch report and human observer programmes. It was impressed upon the Forum participants that governments and RFMOs should develop a regulatory framework for the use of this technology.

The final wrap up session was a panel discussion on eco-labels, featuring representatives from Friend of the Sea, the Marine Stewardship Council and Pacifical. The role of eco-labels was discussed and the various issues surrounding them. The representative from the MSC spoke on the widely publicised criticisms of MSC certification of the PNA FAD free skipjack and yellowfin fishery. Discussions also focused on the future of eco-labels and how they can contribute towards better fisheries management through traceability schemes that they can promote as part of their processes. This is already being done by Pacifical where its bar coded canned tuna can be traced back to the vessel, the captain, and location where the tuna was initially caught.

The 6th Pacific Tuna Forum coincided with the first Pacific Seafood Show which will become a feature of future Tuna Forums and provide an opportunity for those involved in the seafood industry to interact with each other. The overall quality of the presentations was of very high standard and the knowledge and experience that the speakers brought to the Forum was exceptional. There is however scope to improve future Forums including having a more balanced gender representation in the selection of speakers.

It might also be useful in future events to have presentations from shipping lines who are now emerging as big players in the industry. With the growth of containerised storage and shipments, their role in the tuna industry and the growth of this particular aspect of the fishery cannot be underestimated. Overall, the Forum was a success, thanks once again to INFOFISH and the National Fisheries Authority of Papua New Guinea.

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