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Clashing views ahead of tuna fleet crisis meeting

Fisherman holding a skipjack tuna
Source: Undercurrent News

Manila, PHILIPPINES — Tuna industry leaders have different views on the best way to solve the current market crisis.

Some of the world's biggest tuna fishing fleets are set to meet "face-to-face" on Nov. 13 in Manila, Philippines, as record low prices are seen as unsustainable for most tuna fleets. 

The World Tuna Purse Seine Organization (WTPO) should close the whole fishery in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean for one month or one month and a half, according to the head of a European fishing company.

"They should stop all the vessels for a month or a month and a half from now until Chinese New Year to stop overproduction and stabilize the market," he told Undercurrent News, adding that even the canneries would support such a measure, as it would provide market stability. In this way, skipjack prices would return to a minimum of $1,000 per-metric-ton, he also noted, adding that the fleets in the Western Pacific should be "responsible and take steps to stop the vessels, restarting the logistics chain". At present, there is too much fish and the logistic chain is paralyzed, he noted.

But this view, shared by many other fleets operating across oceans, does not have a total consensus. A US-based trader pointed to the lack of cohesion inside the World Tuna Purse Seine Organization (WTPO). "It will be interesting to see what comes out of the meeting," he noted.

An oversupply of skipjack tuna has led raw material prices for delivery in Bangkok, Thailand to dive from $1,600/t 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.

Read more at Undercurrent News