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Philippine Firms Core Of PNG Tuna Industry Philippines, September 19, 13

Papua New Guinea Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Mao Zeming acknowledged the contribution of Philippine firms to the growth of his country’s tuna industry through the largest purse seine fishing fleet and cannery operating in the island state.

“We are indebted to the Philippine government and the pioneer Filipino companies and their ingenuity in investing and plying their capital and know-how in the tuna fishing and processing business in PNG,” Zeming said in statement issued here.
He said the investments of Philippine companies have greatly contributed to PNG’s tuna industry, now with a value of at least $408 million.
Local tuna tycoon Rodrigo E. Rivera, owner of RD Corp., was cited in the statement for pioneering Philippine tuna investments in PNG by signing an agreement with its government in 1995.
RD Corp.’s activities in PNG now include tuna fishing and canning, can making, fish meal, shipyard/dry docking, cold storage, value-added fresh seafood products, wharf and stevedoring, construction and real estate.
The PNG government and RD Corp. were said to be in the process of reviewing the state agreement, which expires in 2015.
“I want to assure you that my government will review the agreement with a view to extend the agreement after 2015,” Zeming said.
The minister also cited Francisco T. Laurel, Sr.’s Frabelle Corp., another Philippine company operating in PNG, for the growth of that country’s tuna industry.
Frabelle signed an agreement with the PNG government in March 2006. This agreement is also under review to thresh out “inhibiting factors” to the company’s operations.
“Two separate committees have been established... to assist Frabelle [in addressing] specific areas of concern such as water, power, port charges, customs, work permit and visa for its foreign workers,” Zeming said.
In June, Frabelle, in a joint venture with Century Canning Corp., another Philippine company, and Thailand’s Thai Union Corp., opened Majestic Seafoods in Malahang, PNG.
Zeming said Majestic Seafoods is the largest tuna cannery in his country and the South Pacific so far.
He noted that ground-breaking had also been done for a tuna processing facility, Nambawan Seafood, “next door” to Majestic Seafoods, in June.
There are three more canneries to be built in PNG “because of the effort by Frabelle to lure foreign players to PNG,” Zeming added.
Cencon Packaging, another Philippine company, is also building a can-making plant to supply the tuna canneries, Zeming said, while Rell & Renn Fishing Corp. is also planning to establish a katsuobushi (dried and smoked tuna) plant and a fresh fish operation on Manus Island.
Zeming said that the fresh fish project will be established under a joint venture, Offshore Master, with 25% local shareholders.
In terms of fishing access, the PNG National Fisheries Authority has licensed 59 Filipino-owned purse seine fishing vessels this year.
“The Philippines has the largest number of purse seine fishing vessels in PNG,” Zeming said.
The fleet’s combined catch in 2012 reached 196,052 metric tons, about 28% of PNG’s purse seine fishery annual total available catch, according to the statement.
Philippine fishing firms are allowed to operate in PNG waters provided that catches are landed and processed in the island state.