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Focus On: FIJI ISLANDS

Fiji’s industrial/offshore fishery remains almost entirely tuna-oriented. Based on a recent report alleging that “serious deficiencies in Fijian inspection and processing requirements potentially put European Community (EC) consumers at risk”, the EC prohibited all Fijian fish products in May 2008 on sanitary grounds.

The authorities indicated that the Pacific Fishing Company Ltd (PAFCO) would consider resuming exports of canned tuna to the United Kingdom if this prohibition was removed and its fishing interests were covered. 

A consultant is currently helping Fiji to address the report’s recommendations; according to the Fijian authorities, there has been significant progress, including the preparation of a draft Food Safety Regulation, training of Fijian inspectors on EU legislation covering fishing vessels and others on good hygiene practice.

Reducing tariffs on canned, preserved or prepared fish in 2008 from 27% to 15% (the rate for fresh fish) substantially lowered the effective protection for fish canning.  Fiji’s incentive regime for fishing also consists of tax incentives, duty concessions on imported inputs, fuel tax rebates, and, until recently, low or zero interest loans.  Due to failures, such as loan defaults and bad debts, the scheme has been suspended while under review. Support programmes also assist the artisan sector.

The Fiji government has aimed, with mixed success since the early 1990s, to implement an Offshore Licensing Policy based on Maximum Sustainable Yields (MSY), especially for offshore fisheries involving Fiji or foreign joint-venture fishing vessels.  The policy objective is to ensure that the total allowable catch is lowered to the sustainable yield for each targeted species.

The offshore tuna fishery is subject to the Tuna Development and Management Plan, 2002.  It provides for
setting sustainable harvest levels for each target species of albacore, bigeye, and yellowfin tuna.  Current levels of annual t
otal allowable catch (TACs) were set in 2002 at 15.000 for all tuna species (bigeye, albacore, and yellowfin), well above annual catches, which average about 9.000-10.000 tons. 

Only long lining is currently practiced in Fijian waters and such
licensed vessels must land all their catch in Fiji; the only exceptions are
purse seine operations and fishing vessels operating under the U.S. Treaty.
The U.S. Treaty allows U.S. fishing vessels access to the fishing resources in EEZs of certain Pacific island nations, including Fiji for fishing fees paid by the U.S. tuna industry and the U.S. Government.  Total fees paid to the FFA have risen from US$12 million annually to US$21 million (US$3 million is paid by the U.S. tuna industry).

Of the US$3 million, 15% is divided equally among
Forum Fisheries Agency (
FFA) members, and the rest distributed pro rata based on tuna weight landed in each EEZ.  The other US$18 million is paid by the U.S. Government to the FFA as aid to support regional economic development programmes.  Originally the Treaty allowed 50 vessels but this has been reduced to 45 (including an optional additional five licences reserved for joint venture arrangements).

 
The Tuna Development Plan also set the maximum number of licensed long liners at 90 in 2002; this was later increased to 110 to address the needs of processors and indigenous Fijians – according to the WTO, the authorities reject allegations that the allocation of fishing licenses is non-transparent and corrupt, and that capacity have been exceeded.

Following a 2004 study by the FFA, the capacity was reduced to 60 in 2007. 
In 2007, Fiji issued 57 tuna long line licences, 38 for Fiji-flagged vessels and 19 foreign-flagged.

As a party to the U.S. Treaty, Fiji must allow access to U.S. purse seiners licensed under the Treaty to fish within Fiji's EEZ.  Members of the FFA extended the Treaty again for ten years in 2003 (
Treaty on Fisheries between the Governments of Certain Pacific Island States and the Government of the United States)
.
Development and status of the tuna industry, 1997-06

Year
Industry development initiative
Characteristics, ownership and structure of industry
Incentives, relevant trade-related measures
Status
1997


Tax free
Pafco temporarily closed, IKA Corporation (state owned) closed
July 1997
MOU (trial agreement between Pafco, FCF and Bumble Bee Seafood)
10-year agreement between parties;  FCF (procuring from long line and purse seine vessels), Pafco for processing and Bumble Bee Seafood for management and marketing of loins in the United States
Upgrade of facilities, tax concessions/target secured markets, which allow flexibility with rules of origin requirements
Continuation of the agreement – loins to the United States, canned tuna flakes to the domestic market
1999-2006
10-year Agreement continues



2003
Rural commercial fishers fishing around FADs
Individual local ownership, group ownership
50% tax deduction on export income, 40% investment allowance on capital items of over F$50,000, low import duties, loss carry forward, duty-free inputs for exports, subsidized fuel, duty concessions on capital expenditure
Supply local markets and local processing plant
2006
Six processing plants – for handling sashimi tuna for export

About 30 companies and 30 long line vessels registered under Fiji flag to supply processing establishments in Fiji
Locally owned and foreign joint ventures with at least 30% local ownership 

Locally owned, joint ventures, and domestic-based foreign operations
Preferential access to EC, fuel rebate, tax concessions, on import of bait, equipment, fishing inputs including materials for vessel construction
Fiji Fish – exports of pre-packed sashimi, loins, fresh chilled fish, frozen fish;
Tossa Bussan – skinless loins, tataki (opened new factory in 2006);
Trimarine Pacific/Cletrock/ Golden Ocean/Hangton Pacific – fresh chilled and frozen tuna exports;
Hangton, Trimarine and Tossa Bussan – recently upgraded facilities;
Locally owned vessels, contracted foreign and chartered vessels, foreign-flagged vessels – catching and supplying from Fiji's EEZ, high seas and other pacific country EEZs.

Source: WTO
The Tuna Management Plan calls for a licensing policy to ensure Fijians receive maximum benefits from fishing.  To ensure that indigenous Fijians holding fishing licenses under charter arrangements are genuinely benefiting financially, the Department created a specific monitoring unit in 2006 to ensure that some indigenous Fijians were not being mis-used by foreigners simply to obtain access to Fiji's tuna resources.
The 2009 Budget introduced a number of measures aimed at assisting the industry, to apply immediately;  these included reducing the tariff on fuel from F$F0.08 to F$0.02 per litre, specialized fishing vessels from 10% to zero, and on fish baits from 3% to zero.  An export tax of 3% on unprocessed fish will apply from 2009.