Fishing day availability in Marshalls tight as price rises - Solomon Star News

Fishing day availability in Marshalls tight as price rises

19 January 2015

MARIANAS VARIETY - Availability of fishing days for purse seiners in 2015 and 2016 will be limited in the Marshall Islands, likely resulting in higher than the benchmark prices being paid by distant water fishing fleets that want to fish in this central Pacific nation’s waters.

The minimum price for a fishing day in waters of the eight-member Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) rose to US$8,000 on 01 January, a 33 percent jump on last year’s US$6,000 benchmark price.

Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority Director Glen Joseph confirmed this week that days are at a premium in 2015 — so much so that companies are already talking with his fisheries agency to secure fishing days for 2016.

Under the PNA scheme for purse seine fishing vessels, the Marshall Islands has only about 2,500 days for the year and is giving priority to its locally flagged and based purse seiners as well as committing about one-third of its days to U.S.-flagged purse seiners fishing under the U.S. Pacific fisheries treaty.

“There is no way we will have enough days for the 12 locally-based purse seiners, the U.S. Treaty and our bilateral partners,” said Joseph.

The eight PNA members that control waters where over half of the world’s skipjack tuna is caught have worked to limit the number of fishing days sold to purse seiners to create scarcity and drive up the fishing day price. From the Marshalls’ perspective, this is beginning to happen. A surge in what fishing companies will pay to secure fishing rights is also being seen in other PNA member countries. Late last year, Papua New Guinea conducted a public bid for fishing days that resulted in bidding as high as US$12,000 for a fishing day.

PNA members include Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau.

“We cannot accommodate everyone in 2015 and the message coming from all PNA members is we are going to maintain the limit and tighten the allowance for non-fishing days,” Joseph said.

Fishing companies will have to cut the number of vessels because we won’t have days for them.”

He predicts some boats will be tied up at dock this year because this situation will force fishing companies to give limited days to the larger, more efficient vessels.

PNA limits purse seine fishing by all fleets — domestic Pacific island and distant water fishing nations — to about 45,000 days annually.