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Tuna Dreams & Realities: What Do Pacific Islanders Want?

Research performed by Hannah Parris, from the Australian National University, illustrates the actions and aspirations of six Pacific Island states in developing their tuna industry in an article entitled:

Tuna dreams and tuna realities:

Defining the term ‘‘maximizing economic returns from the tuna fisheries’’ in six Pacific Island states

The moment is especially important to understand the particularities of those small states due to the imminent necessity of reducing tuna capacity worldwide. While developed nations fight to “freeze” capacity, emerging tuna fishing states intend to extend it.

In addition, foreign investments in the tuna industry have better chances to succeed if aligned with their aspirations.

Ms. Parris’ scientific article was based on interviews of 61 people from six Pacific island states: Papua New Guinea (PNG), Solomon Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). From which 28 interviews were made with members of the tuna industry and 17 with governments’ representatives.

According to the article, “maximizing returns from tuna” has a different meaning or emphasis for respondents in each country.

-         PNG: Sustainable stocks, processing plants, local fleet, access fees;
-         Solomon: processing plants, local participation, planned capacity, access fees;
-         Fiji: sustainable stocks, processing plants, local employment;
-         Samoa: sustainable stocks, processing plants;
-         Marshall Islands: employment, processing plants, local fleet and access fees
-         FSM: sustainable stocks, access fees, employment, processing plants.

Investing in onshore processing facilities and bringing development for local communities seem to be the major wish among Pacific island states. Not many of them refer to expanding their tuna fleet as a must.

However, half of them – PNG, Solomon and FSM – have plans already in action to expand their purse-seiner fleet and all of them have plans to expand their long line fleet.

Developing processing facilities onshore and expanding the tuna fleet in partnership with foreign companies are also ongoing activities in most of the six islands – except Samoa.

The article highlights the negative and positive aspects currently influencing those small nations’ aspirations in expand their tuna industry. (See table).
 
The author concluded that past negative experiences have contributed to the current policies, even though some issues remain unresolved. The major past problems the islands faced included bad management of investments, corruption and foreign countries benefiting the most from their tuna resources.