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Lae – The Future Tuna Processing Hub Of The Pacific Papua New Guinea, August 16, 12

Lae is set to become the tuna hub of the Pacific with four large multi-million kina tuna plants to be established at Malahang over the next couple of months.

While progress of the much-mooted Pacific Marine Industrial Zone outside Madang has somewhat slowed down because of landowner and non-governmental organization issues, it is all systems go in Lae, with supportive landowners and provincial government.

Four large tuna plants – Majestic Seafoods, Dong Wong, Nambawan Seafoods and Haili Sheng – are set to make Lae their base.

Majestic Seafoods’ K80 million new tuna canning facility is expected to be opened over the next two months and will create at least 2,000 jobs for local people.

When in full production, it will create at least 5,000 jobs altogether.

In the first phase of the project in which 200 metric tons of tuna a day will be processed, up to 3,000 people will be employed.

The second phase, in which 380 metric tons of tuna a day will be processed, will employ up to 6,000 people.

Majestic Seafoods is a company put up by three major companies composed of Frabelle Fishing Corporation of Philippines, operating in PNG as Frabelle (PNG) Ltd; Philippine-based Century Canning Corporation; and Thailand-based Thai Union Corporation, a subsidiary of Thai Union Frozen Products PCL (TUF).

Thai Union is the largest tuna canner in the world, while Century Canning is the biggest canner in the Philippines.

Dong Wong is a South Korean company; Nambawan Seafoods is made up of Trans Pacific Journey Corporation and TSP Marine of the Philippines; and Haili Sheng is from Mainland China.

All three will be involved in tuna loining.

These add to the two already established canneries in Lae, Malaysian-owned International Food Corporation, which produces the popular Besta canned mackerel and Frabelle of the Philippines.

Morobe provincial administrator Kemas Tomala told The National in Lae that these developments, coupled with the USD 700 million Lae port development, would make Lae the tuna capital of the Pacific and one of the largest tuna centers in the world.

“You can say that Lae is becoming the hub of fishing in PNG and in the Pacific,” he said.

“Yes, the fishing industry is interested in Lae and Morobe provincial government, provincial administration, and landowners are doing everything possible to ensure that the industry prospers in Lae and provides employment.

“We are grateful that the national government is working with the Asian Development Bank to develop the new port in Lae.

“That will help us in our bid to make Lae the fishing hub of the Pacific. We are already moving in that direction.

“The biggest thing in PNG’s favor (tuna) is the access to the European Union market. All the investors are coming to PNG because of the access given to PNG by the European Union.”

Tomala said the tuna plants would also benefit other spin-off industries.

“We will be expecting new investors,” he said.

“Apart from the canning of tuna, there will be a lot more downstream processing. This includes manufacturing of cans, packaging and other support that will come along with the tuna canneries. In a lot of ways, we are grateful that commercial investors have shown confidence in the commercial environment in Lae.”

New Morobe Governor Kelly Naru welcomed the latest inclusion to Lae’s commercial scene – Majestic Seafoods’ K80 million new tuna cannery outside Lae, – which will employ at least 5,000 people when in full operation.

“My own view is that I approach the growth and development of the city and province with an open-door policy,” Naru told The National.

“I’m a team player and I want to allow economic growth, and investment, as part and parcel of this city and province. I’m happy with the fisheries projects and others coming into the province because they will create economic growth, employment, and cut down law and order problems. I believe in investments and I believe there’s a lot of potential to attract all different kinds of investment.”

Papua New Guinea currently boasts the largest fisheries zone in the Pacific at an area of 2.4 million sq km.

The country landed 749,000 tons of tuna in 2010, some 17% of the world’s catch.

Under the EU deal, PNG’s canned tuna has been granted permission to enter the EU market duty free and imports to the continent − which reached 15,600 tons in 2010 − are expected to double in this year.

Papua New Guinea has also been permitted to export fish to the EU from outside its own territorial waters, allowing investors to source fish elsewhere and process it in PNG.