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'Unfair' fee discourages tuna processing and fishing industry

PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Friday, September 13, 2019, 08:40 (GMT + 9)

The domestic tuna processing and fishing industry is not happy that they are paying the same vessel day scheme (VDS) fee as distant water fishing nations at USD 10,500 (PGK 35,713) per day.

PNG Fishing Industry Association (FIA) chairman Sylvester Pokajam said: “We have taken the risk to invest in onshore development (processing plants) in PNG and yet are being treated unfairly.”

Pokajam noted that the previous Government recognised the predicament and last December approved in principle, a VDS refund submission by the previous fisheries minister, to apply the VDS refund of USD 310 (PGK 1,054) for PNG flag and USD 150 (PGK 510) for LBFV (locally-based foreign vessel) for every catch that is caught by these vessels and processed onshore in PNG.

“We (PNG FIA) are sad that seven and a half months have now passed since the decision was made by the Government, but to date, it has not yet been implemented by the National Fisheries Authority (NFA),” he told The National.

“We want to make it clear that the refund only applies to fish offloaded for processing.

“For fish not processed onshore in PNG, the full VDS applies.

“Why are they (distant water fishing nations) being charged the same fees?

“Companies are going to slowly move out.

“We have 46 vessels (PNG flagged), by end of this year there will only be 16 because we are charging high fees. We are not helping the industry."

Pokajam was one of the speakers at a fisheries-related media workshop this week aimed at helping media personnel understand the significance and value of tuna fisheries. The workshop was an initiative between the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), under the Pacific European Union Marine Partnership Programme (PEUMP), and the NFA in the lead up to the 7th Pacific Tuna Forum which starts in Port Moresby today.

Funded by the European Union and the Swedish government, the EUR 45 million (PGK168.7million) PEUMP programme promotes sustainable management and sound ocean governance for food security and economic growth, while addressing climate change resilience and conservation of marine biodiversity

FFA fisheries development division acting director Chris Reid said: “PNG is a key player in the region’s fisheries industry. As of 2018, the tuna catch taken in Papua New Guinea’s waters was valued at over USD 700 million (PGK 2.38 billion),” he said.

“This makes a significant contribution to the economy which makes it all the more important for the media to pay attention to the issues and inform the public.”

Source: The National


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