FIS.com | Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Spain fights back against perceived threat from PNG
By Natalia Real
PAPUA NEW GUINEA — Spain’s tuna canning industry is feeling under attack by Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) privileged access to the European Union (EU) market. Spain is consequently engaging in a smear campaign against the tariff-free market access of PNG and the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), a fisheries industry consultative meeting was told this week.
The southern European country is responding to the ratification of the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) last December to the EU market. This IEPA is anticipated to head an increase in foreign investment in PNG’s tuna industry, which makes up 4 per cent of the global market.
Despite Spain’s smear campaign, Maurice Brownjohn of the PNA said he encouraged collaboration between the industry and regulatory regimes to exploit opportunity and maximise benefits.
“We are not out to take Spanish fish, jobs or markets,” he assured, reports Post Courier/PacNews. “We will welcome their investments but it is not acceptable for PNG to feed industrial nations to compete against us.”
PNG is currently working to achieve its goal of turning the island nation into the new global tuna leader in 2013. This involves producing about 1,330 tonnes of tuna per day over the next two years.
Galicia, which produces 80 per cent of canned tuna from Spain and nearly 70 per cent of the product in the European market, thinks its 67 canneries in Galicia and 12,000 employees would suffer. Juan Manuel Vieites, secretary of the Inter-professional Tuna Organisation (Interatun) and secretary general of the National Association for Producers of Canned Fish and Shellfish (Anfaco-Cecopesca), warned that all those canneries would be severely hurt.
The EU has already issued 10 recommendations to constrict operational aspects of the National Fisheries Authority (NFA), which is already being applied by re-flagging all foreign-chartered vessels, among other measures.
Led by NFA Managing Director Sylvester Pokajam, NFA officials, industry players and stakeholders at the meeting argued about the industry’s potential under the PNA and the importance of sustainable fishing management.
Spain worries that, with the IEPA in place, it would lose 25,000 direct and 54,000 indirect jobs. In addition, Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) countries would lose 35,000 direct jobs and 200,000 indirect jobs, while Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries would lose 20,000 direct jobs and 300,000 indirect jobs.
Peter Celso, Fisheries Industry Association (FIA) chairman, added that pressing challenges that would come with the opportunities should be tackled jointly.