Tuna News from PNA
WALMART VISITS MAJURO
A team from the US mega-corporation Walmart spent a week in Majuro touring fish processing facilities, looking at fishing vessels and meeting with government fisheries officials and the PNA office, according to the Marshall Islands Journal.
“They are looking at the supply chain and sourcing fish,” said Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority Director Glen Joseph, who met with the five-person team Monday.
They toured Pan Pacific Foods tuna loining plant and the sashimi export operation managed by Marshall Islands Fishing Venture. MIFV Fish Base Manager Jin Liang said the Walmart representatives toured MIFV’s tuna processing facility Monday and also showed interest in the company’s longline fishing boat operation. There may be a chance to do business with the US-based corporation in the future, said Jin.
Parties to the Nauru Agreement Commercial Manager Maurice Brownjohn met with the group Monday morning and said they were interested primarily in social accountability of fishing operations. “We are way ahead on that,” said Brownjohn. He continued, “PNA with its globally recognized sustainable skipjack and yellowfin fishery has been implementing sustainable fishing measures for the fishery as well as requirements for fishing boats in managing fishers. Under Pacifical, PNA has what we believe are the only social accountability guidelines for crews on purse seiners.”
Brownjohn said Walmart has contacted PNA before with interest in tuna from this part of the Pacific, but the visit this past week was the company’s first to Majuro.
“Hopefully following this visit we may now see MSC Pacifical co-branded canned tuna in Walmart stores in the future. “
Joseph said the visit by Walmart representatives was low key. “We didn’t know about it until we were alerted to the visit through Pan Pacific Foods,” said Joseph.
“We’ve got our (tuna) product at Costco, now Walmart’s here (taking a look),” he said. “Who’s next — Sam’s Club?”
Walmart is the largest business employer in the United States, with 2.1 million workers. Forbes lists Walmart as the 17th largest public company in the world.
PALAU TO TEST PAUL ALLEN’S SKYLIGHT
Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. announced SkyLight, a new satellite imagery and data-analysis system developed by Paul Allen, is set to be implemented for testing in Palau in December, and expected to be up and running in 2018.
Allen announced his plans at the recent Our Ocean conference in Malta. He is spending $40 million to develop the system that will take multiple data sources from satellite images and shipping records as well as information manually collected by officials on docks. It will then use machine-learning software to track and predict which vessels are Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU).
Palau has declared 80% of its exclusive economic zone as protected marine sanctuary and bans foreign commercial fishing. SkyLight could be of great assistance in helping Palau better police its waters.
NEW OBSERVER CLASS COMMENCES IN MAJURO
John Still Villi, lead instructor for observer training, and Edward Adiniwin, director for CMI’s Maritime Vocational Training Center, have just finished conducting several two-week Standard of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) classes where students learn personal safety techniques, CPR and first aid, fire prevention and fighting, and occupational health and safety.
Those who pass the class and hold a high school diploma or GED are eligible to take the fisheries observer training course that commenced last week at the College of the Marshall Islands Arrak campus. Ten students have signed up for the challenge. These ten students are all males, but the instructors encourage women to participate.
During the course the students will learn essential skills including geography and navigation in addition to basic math, English and computer skills. Students are also taught environmental laws regarding issues such as the proper disposal of waste at sea. Students must pass both written and practical tests in order to graduate to become fisheries observers.
The course is rigorous but has many perks. Tuition is covered by the National Training Council, and meals, housing, and transportation are provided for the duration of the course. Students also earn a weekly stipend. When they graduate in nine weeks they will be fisheries observers for the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA), ready to go to sea on purse seine and longline fishing boats and capable of earning $75 to $85 per day at sea. In port they can supplement their income as a port monitor, collecting and reporting data as vessels transship their tuna.
An independent observer is required on every purse seine fishing trip within Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) waters, which includes the RMI’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone. The observer keeps data and records that are turned in at the end of each fishing trip. Their reports are an essential part of PNA’s fisheries management system to prevent boats from Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activity. Data from each fishing trip is shared with the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and MIMRA to help scientists determine best practices and quotas for keeping tuna stocks sustainable.
Much has been done to ensure the safety of fisheries observers at sea. Adiniwin explains observers are treated like officers on purse seiners. They eat with the captain and other officers and have air-conditioned quarters they have seen and approved before accepting the post. As the fishing companies have come to realize that they must be compliant or face fines, they have become more accepting and welcoming to the observers, he said.
The current class is scheduled to graduate in December.
Bangkok prices for frozen whole round skipjack have been USD 2,300-2,350/mt in October, a record high for the past four years, up from September’s prices of USD 2150 - 2200/mt. Prices have now begun to level off, between USD 1980 and 2050/mt according to Undercurrent, this on the back of opening up the FAD closure. With other oceans facing limited catches it is envisioned the prices may remain high.