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More Local Vanuatu Tuna Catches Drop Local Fish Prices

The owner of Vanuatu Tuna Fishing Christophe Emelee has assured the Chairman of the Vanuatu Fishermen’s Association ( VFA) Eric Festa that he wants to work with his Association and they have met to encourage the opportunity but that nothing has come of the meetings so far.

Emelee spoke up to answer to concerns from the Chairman that Tuna Fishing has taken their local fish market away from them. He said the only reason why Port Vila residents go to buy fish from the company is because the prices of their fish are cheaper than the local fishermen’s prices.

Even Tuna Fishing Manager Brian Fong also confirmed, “Mothers from the Market for example, come here and their eyes pop out when they notice how much fish they can buy with the money they have because our fish prices are cheap but of very high quality”.

Fong said their customers include cooks from the Market House, owners of private takeaway outlets and even kava bars.

Meanwhile his remark has contradicted Festa’s claim that Tuna Fishing local prices are far too high.

The Vanuatu Fisherman Association (VFA) operates in the Six Mile Economic Zone from Torres to Aneityum. Festa said initially, the verbal agreement between his Association and Tuna Fishing was that the latter would be allowed to sell fish locally on “trial”. “The problem was that we have yet to have the agreement in black and white so Tuna Fishing is still selling fish in our local market and it looks like the trial is long gone”, he said.

Furthermore Festa said another agreement was that Tuna Fishing would provide the Association with their type of catch such as yellow fin and Wahoo for them to sell in times of bad weather. But he said this has not been implemented either.

He said the purpose of VFA is to market all the catch they make locally to enable the families of the members to send their children to school and add a healthy diet for people in the villages.

He said they have held discussions with the Department of Fisheries to assist where possible to set up a fish market outlet for them most likely in the Market House. “We are told the South Pacific Community sent over a total of Vt600,000 from Noumea to build the fish market but the money has gone missing”, Festa said.

Festa is thinking of resigning from his post saying the Fisheries Department has helped them to set up a “Muppet” Association.