The economic value of tuna catches in the Western Pacific

Categories Op-Eds: Tuna newsbeat insightsPosted on

Republished from Franciso Blaha’s blog, 4 October 2017

by Francisco Blaha


As said many times before, I’m not only blown away by the number of readers of this humble blog, but as well by the calibre and expertise of many of them. This is evident when I get clarifications, on stuff I published, by totally disinterested contributors from some of the top experts in the tuna world. When I posted about the 2017 Pacific Tuna Forum, I quoted some figures for the economic value of the catches. Les Clark (a key advisor to PNA) very kindly provided me some further figures, that reflect more accurately the situation for the PICs. I quote them below:

The economic value of catches in 2016 was: USD 5.28 billion (PS: $2.84 billion and LL: $1.48 billion). Yet this is the value of the catch in the whole Western and Central Pacific Ocean.  So it includes the value of catches in the waters of Indonesia and Philippines and the high seas as well catches in the waters of Japan and other countries in the WCPO.

The value of catches in the waters of the Pacific Islands FFA members (i.e. FFA waters excluding Australia and New Zealand) is estimated at $2.59 billion. This data, including the estimate of $5.28 billion for the WCPO comes from the very useful value of WCPO tuna fisheries 2017 Excel files produced by Peter Terawasi from FFA and (available at

The $500 million that stays in the Pacific (that I quoted in the Tuna Forum post), is only for the government revenue from foreign vessels. On top of that, there are the broader economic benefits from domestic vessel operations including crew earnings, profits and various payments to government, provisionally estimated at around $350m for 2016.

So that means about $850m is retained of the $2.59b earned by vessels in Pacific Island waters – much of the rest is payments for fuel etc.  This also doesn’t include the economic benefits from onshore processing, local purchases by vessels, etc.

Hence, in reality, the full picture of the benefits for the Pacific Island Countries is better than the one I portrayed. If all included we could be at a 30% retention of the total value, now if that is sufficient and fair is the kind of discussions I love to hear.

Fisheries Economics is a specialised topic I don’t know much about, hence I have lots of respect for my colleagues in that area, and I follow their work with deep interest. At the end of the day, commercial fisheries are about money, and money decides fisheries politics.

World tuna day announced by the United Nations

Categories Op-Eds: Tuna newsbeat insightsPosted on

Republished from Franciso Blaha’s blog, 14 December 2016

by Francisco Blaha


The United Nations General Assembly has voted today to make May 2nd World Tuna Day.

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement have been pushing to establish an internationally recognised event for the past five years.  The United Nations General Assembly voted without objection to ratify a resolution on World Tuna Day that had been endorsed by nearly 100 nations prior to today’s vote at UN headquarters in New York City. Ambassadors from PNA nations attended the vote.

Tuna is a primary source of revenue for Pacific Island governments and is a key part of food security in the region and World Tuna Day helps strengthen the voice of Pacific nations striving to ensure their succeses and challenges are part of the global tuna conversation.

As the resource owners of the regions multi-billion-dollar fishery, it is clearly important that Pacific knowledge, progress and experiences must lead the global tuna conversations. And tuna is keeping the Pacific working, with jobs in the fisheries sector rising from 10,500 in 2010 to an estimated 19,000 in the present.  Added to that, while just under 20% of the tuna catch in the Pacific EEZs is caught by domestic fleets, that is still a rising trend, on top of another area of increase– the amount of the catch being processed on shore, where the majority of the jobs are filled by women.

A range of factors lead to these upward trends, amongst them an ability to implement at national level the results of regional agreements and actions for fisheries licensing, compliance, and monitoring policies, and management measures

Our challenge in the region is to continue this growth, including extending it to a broader range of the membership and to all fisheries.  The success of the PNA members in leveraging huge returns from the purse seine fishery is our collective inspiration for also reforming and benefiting more from long lining for example.

And of course, fisheries are not all rosy.  The Pacific faces numerous and substantial challenges including the overfished status of bigeye tuna, marginal economic status of albacore and concerted attacks on pacific islands sovereign rights from distant water fishing nations.