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Tuna fleets to hold crisis meeting as skipjack prices drop to record low

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Source: Undercurrent News

Manila, THE PHILIPPINES — Some of the world's biggest tuna fishing fleets are set to meet "face to face" next week to discuss the current market crisis. 

An oversupply of skipjack tuna has led raw material prices for delivery in Bangkok, Thailand to dive from $1,600 per metric ton in March to $900/t this month, a record low. This has caused many purse seine boats around the world to operate at a loss. Prices are expected to drop even further in the near future -with some exchanges already done at $850/t in recent days- a situation that is seen as unsustainable for most tuna fleets. 

The World Tuna Purse Seine Organization (WTPO) will hold a meeting on Nov. 13 in Manila, the Philippines, to discuss the market and catch situations in relation to the market and catch situations in relation to "concerns" raised by WCPO and Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission members.

The agenda for the meeting, seen by Undercurrent News, includes:

1.  A vessel day scheme workshop - strategies and work plan
2.  Fish aggregating devices closure concern and new regulations
3.  WTPO website review
4.  Other matters

The head of a tuna fishing firm active in the Western Pacific Ocean told Undercurrent that vessels continued to fish despite the sharp price drop, to cover their vessels' costs. 

"The problem, why fishermen still continue to fish, is because of the expensive vessel days that they have purchased. If they catch, the loss is less than losing $20,000 per day, of which half is the days' cost in the Pacific," he said.

Multiple sources said it was possible prices could further fall in December and January, amid strong supply -- especially in the Western Pacific -- and relatively low demand. However, four months at $900/t or less is absolutely unsustainable for any fleet.

Read more at Undercurrent News