PNA'S fisheries management triples revenue to its Pacific members

While Chinese fishing firm declares ‘low earnings’ due to soft tuna prices

MAJURO, Marshall Islands — The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) has dramatically increased the value of tuna caught in its waters in the last two years according to new data released last week. 
In 2010, the amount of tuna caught was valued at USD 1.9 billion, with only USD 60 million of that going to PNA nations. By 2012, the overall value increased to over USD 3 billion, with revenue to PNA countries more than tripling to USD 229 million.
This year, PNA Office projects that fisheries revenue will increase to nearly USD 3.9 billion, with the PNA share rising to USD 249 million — a quadrupling of revenue to the islands compared to 2010.
Dr. Transform Aqorau, PNA’s CEO, said the increase in the value of the fishery and PNA’s share is entirely related to the fisheries management and business initiatives enforced by the eight nations since 2010.
These include a hard limit on number of fishing days sold to fishing companies, which increases the value of fishing days, as well as the current benchmark price of USD 5,000 per day — a near tripling of the price from several years ago.  
Of interest, is recent news of one of China’s leading deep-water fishing firms blaming unusually low earnings in the first half of 2013 on softening prices of tuna and squid, according to a seafoodsource.com news report.
After a net profit in the first six months of 2012 of USD 3.04 million, China Overseas Fishery Co. (COFC) published a performance projection for the first half of this year at a net loss of USD 2.1 million, the news report said.
It also noted, cushioning the fall somewhat, the Chinese company received subsidies in the millions from the Chinese government in the first six months of the year.
The story pointed out, the Chinese government focus has been targeted towards expanding the domestic fisheries industry, with fuel and vessel building subsidies encouraging firms like COFC to enter and succeed in the deep-water sector.
It notes, “In a paper on China’s deep water presence presented at the EU Parliament in Brussels last year, EU officials estimated Chinese vessels account for 10 percent of the global deep water catch and claimed that USD 9 billion (EUR 6.79 billion) was being lost to other nations by illegal fishing by Chinese vessels. According to EU estimates China’s deep water fleet fishes 4.6 million tons a year, far higher than the 380,000 it reported to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in 2011, with 3.1 million tons coming from the Africa region.”
According to a Scientific American article, “China Estimated to Dramatically Underreport Its Overseas Fishing Catch”, the paper or recent study referred to in the seafoodsource article was funded by the European Union (EU), and states, “From 2000 to 2011, the country [China] reported an average overseas catch of 368,000 tons a year. Yet China claims to have the world’s biggest distant-water fishing fleet, implying a much larger haul.”
 Daniel Pauly, a fisheries scientist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, who led the study and his colleagues estimated the average catch for 2000–11 was in fact 4.6 million tons a year, more than 12 times the reported figure.
“These numbers may not be absolutely exact, but they give the first hint of the magnitude of the problem,” says Boris Worm, a marine ecologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, who was not involved in the study,” article noted.
“The scientists estimated the catch per country on the basis of an assumed average catch for each type of vessel,” according to the Scientific American article.
The research for the study, it says was “done by at least ten researchers combining clues from field interviews, scholarly articles and newspaper and online reports in 14 languages to estimate how many Chinese fishing vessels were operating in 93 countries and territories,” with many of the vessels found to be fishing in areas China reports as ‘no catch’, as well as some Chinese companies operating fishing vessels flying local flags.
The study was able to review catches of 900 vessels.
However, the seafoodsource news report, “China firm blames loss on tuna prices, competition” states that China under its current five-year plan for fisheries “plans to have 2,300 deep water vessels in action by 2015, up from a current 2000.”
Source: Media release Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA)