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The Fisheries Industry Association (FIA) has sounded a warning to government to take note of current policy impediments could see a considerable drop in Papua New Guinea flagged vessels to drop from a high of 46 to 16 vessels by 2020, following the departure of 37 vessels.
FIA president Sylvester Pokajam, while outlining a number of issues from the industry viewpoint said the issue of reflagging has been fuelled by the discounts provided by tuna industries in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Nauru, and other countries in the region that are Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA).
He said while the main focus of PNG flagged vessels is to encourage the onshore processing of PNG tuna, the current Vessel Day Scheme fees are not conducive to stimulate industry growth with an across the board regime of US$10,000 a day charged for both processors and distance fishing vessels and other work permit and visa requirements are added on.
“So far last year, we have witnessed ten (10) PNG flag vessels reflagged to other PNA countries because of the relaxation of work permit and work visa by them and these vessels go port to port to PNA countries.
Benefits of PNG flagged vessels see that catch and exports pertain to PNG including earnings; PNG flag vessels are required to make port calls in designated ports such as Wewak, Madang, Lae and Rabaul and spend up to K40,000(US$11,760) per port call or about K12 million(US$3.5 million) per year in spin-offs that are earned by the local people from local markets purchases, restaurant, agency fee, security, etc.
“Once vessel reflags to other PNA countries this income will be lost,” Pokajam, former NFA boss, said.
He said locally flagged vessels comply with EU IUU Regulation because 100 per cent of exports land in EU market duty free/quota free.
“So far a total of 37 PNG flag vessels have reflagged to FSM and Nauru. 28 to FSM and 9 to Nauru. We used to have 46, we now only have 16, because the other 37 are now there,” he said.
“These two countries offer discount on VDS fees and facilitate access of visas and they facilitate them.
“Regulators like NFA should think carefully and give the government the right advice.
By first January 2020 there will be only 16 PNG flag vessels remaining.”
He said from the entire fisheries sector alone in 2018, a total of K1.3 billion was made according to regulatory figures.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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