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Canneries face closure

Pacnews/ Undercurrent News
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

PAPUA New Guinea (PNG)'s new policy to end discounts on tuna fishing fees will see foreign-owned canneries based on the island forced to close - some soon - one source told Undercurrent News.

In a recent market update the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) noted PNG fishing industry association president, Sylvester Pokajam, had been claiming the six canneries were threatening to close if they could not continue to get subsidised fishing and be allowed to take fish offshore.

However, the report added it now appeared the companies had reconsidered, and would stay open.

Under the new policy all boat owners will now be charged the full vessel day scheme fee, and the government will pay rebates at a rate of $400 per metric ton for catch processed in PNG. This incentive is double the previous incentive, but only for fish processed in PNG, thereby keeping processing jobs and product to be processed on the island.

Undercurrent's source, though — a processor himself — said it was not true that the canneries were rethinking their intention to close. "Most of us are firm that we will close if the new system remains as is. The processing industry cannot survive with just $400/t rebate or subsidy, due to the high cost and difficulty of doing business in PNG."

PNA's market roundup suggested the six canneries would all open on or around February 1, at the conclusion of the annual Christmas break.

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