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The Global Tuna Game

Pacific Island nations comprise the largest tuna resource in the world with most of the fishing being done by multinationals companies in the islands of the federal States of Micronesia, PNG and Kiribati. 2/3 of the world tuna catches come from the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. 

PNG has now become the most fertile grounds for tuna fishing in the world with more than 700 000 tons fished out in 2010. Pacific governments only receive between 2 and 8% of the values of the catches in licenses and access fees. A pittance in comparison to the whole value of the resource, which is worth billions once it reaches its market. The idea behind the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) is do encourage the delocalisation of those foreign companies, who catch the fish and go process back into their own countries, in Papua New Guinea. 


Exporting tuna to the European Union…


In Madang, a majority of the exports (80%) goes to the European Union, the biggest fish market in the world. The exports mainly go to Germany, the UK and Netherlands.

The EU is now becoming increasingly dependent on imports to feed its growing demand for fish and the rise in consumption in Eastern European countries. 

…for now…


The feasibility study of the PMIZ highlighted that China could over time play an increasing supervisory role on the project, with the potential of redirecting the tuna to its growing market at a later stage (once the duty free access to the EU comes to an end or if it is granted to other competitive countries). (p178, conclusions)

Access the full report here


"First it is a recognised fact that the people of Madang has not expertise and experienced in operating and managing a big enterprise such this project. therefore, a management group which shall be China enterprise with the necessary expertise and experience will, within the first five years of operation, transfer the technology to locals. Secondly, during the subsequent years of operation, another China Consultant will be appointed to the top management as a comptroller until the full repayment of the loan. Thirdly, as demands for seafood in China increases through the years, the fish catch in Pacific Marine Industrial Zone shall be directly benefited. " p178 - Feasability Study (2008) - China Shenyang International Economic and Technical Cooperation Corporation


Find out about similar plans in Palau (2010). Shenyang's website

…A great example of "trade inductive growth" says EU commissioner. 


In May 2012, Karel de Gucht, EU Commissioner for trade, highlighted at a joint parliamentary assembly with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, the importance of signing free trade agreements between the EU and developing nations, further liberalising their economies. These controversial agreements are called Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) and allow tuna being canned in Papua New Guinea to be exported duty and quota free to the EU. 


“Papua New Guinea is now receiving major investments in the fisheries sector as a direct result of the agreement. It is estimated that about 53,000 jobs will be created by 2016, about 7% of total formal employment. These jobs will almost exclusively be filled by local people, many of them women, making this a great example of trade-induced inclusive growth,” he said.


Read the full statement.

Between 40 up to 85% of workers do not last a year on the job. 


Yet a report presented to the EU parliament in 2012, about the relaxation of the Rules of Origins (ROO) for PNG, told another story. Between 40% and up to 85% of workers, do not last more than a year on the job with the existing foreign owned industry (p54).


Read the full report.


This highlights very pressing concern in terms of workers rights and conditions and questions the sustainability and benefits brought by such development.


Title: Application of The System of derogation to the Rules of Origin of Fisheries Products in Papua New Guinea and Fiji – Study


Authors: Blomeyer and Sanz

Year: September 2012

Publication: European Parliament – Director General for Internal Policies


Powerpoint Presentation of the Study – October 2012


Follow up on the EU-Pacific EPA as well as other EPAs in negotiation with 79 developing nations on their website.


Read the full report.

Title: Report on the Implementation of the derogation to the standard rules of origins granted to the Pacific ACP States in the framework of the interim Economic Partnership Agreement


Author: Amanda Hamilton, Anthony Lewis, Liam Campling


Year: December 2011


Publication: Presented to the European Parliament


Read the full report

Title: Minutes, Second Meeting of the Trade Commitee between Papua New Guinea and the European Commission under the Interim Partnership Agreement between the Pacific States of Papua New Guinea and Fiji and The European Union


Authors: The Hon Charles Abel (PNG) and Mr Peter Thompson (EU)


Year: 24 February 2012


Read the minutes.

Title: A Fisheries Perspective on the Impact of Global Sourcing (Powerpoint)


Author: Sylvester B. Polkjam – Managing Director of the National Fisheries Authority


Year: 23 February 2012


Publication: Information seminar on the implementation of the EU-Pacific Global Sourcing.


Read the powerpoint

Title: Social Impact Assessment of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) being negotiated between the European Community and Pacific ACP States


Authors: Pacific Network On Globalization (PANG)


Year: 2007


Publication: Submitted to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat


Read the full report

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