The fisheries sector will be a key economic driver in the region if tuna is processed in the Pacific Islands states, according to the Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association.
Association chief executive John Maefiti spoke of the challenges and opportunities in growing Pacific Islands-based tuna fishing and processing industries during the regional tuna industry and trade conference in Port Moresby on Wednesday.
He said there were foreign resource-user boats in the region which went in every year to get access licence from the Pacific Island states.
“They will go fishing and when they get a full catch, they then offload the fish to bigger ships which transported them to Bangkok in Thailand and other countries to be processed and then re-exported by Europe and United States markets,” Maefiti said.
“We should ask why most of the fish are processed outside the countries that they were caught in. Because if they are processed in the Pacific Islands States, the fisheries sector could be the key economic driver in the region.”
Maefiti said the regional body represented the national associations in the region.
“We were established in 2005 and our key objective is to provide the united voice for our members on issues that affect our business interests in the region.”