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Global Financial Crisis Hits Ecuador Tuna Industry – 30 Pct Drop In Exports

Ecuador’s  tuna exports  have dropped between 30 and 40 percent in the first months of this year as a result of global financial issues, according to the latest reports from the Exports and Investment Promotion Corporation of Ecuador (CORPEI).

CORPEI is an organization providing its services and support to Ecuadorian exports and investments.

The drop in tuna sales was also reflected in a reduction in prices, according to Mr. Guillermo Moran, head of the Subsecretary’s Office of Fisheries Resources.

The entire Ecuadorian economy has registered a slump in 2009, increased unemployment and growing tendencies towards deflation.  Dozens of companies, large and small, had to close or dismiss thousands of workers, and some analysts estimate there could be three million unemployed workers by the end of 2009.

Tuna is one of Ecuador’s main export products, and the tuna sector, in particular, must also confront the problem of diminished credit availability, since companies will not continue receiving bank loans as they did in 2008.

The skipjack tuna price per ton averaged this year around USD 1,000, while in 2008 it reached a high of USD 2,000. However, according to Mr. Moran, prices could rise to USD 1,500 once the tuna fishing ban  goes into effect in August.

“USD 700 per ton has always been a good average price for tuna, and this year’s prices have  surpassed this figure, therefore we can still count on tuna being consumed in international markets,” Mr. Moran indicated. “Tuna continues to be the star product of Ecuador and I believe that there are possibilities of getting out of this situation”.

Statistics provided by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) indicate that, between 1 January and 29 March, the Ecuadorian tuna fleet landed 44,179 tons of tuna in the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO).