Palau’s Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment, and Tourism (MNRET) have attracted at least 20 participants in a tuna canning training to take place Sept. 22 to 27.  The training will be hosted by the Bureau of Marine Resources (BMR) and led by FoodStream Inc Australia.

Earlier, MNRET has requested the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) to provide tuna canning training for small and medium enterprises (SME) in Palau citing that as the nation gets ready for the full implementation of a national marine sanctuary by January 1, 2020.

“As we are preparing for full implementation of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS), a central aspect of our focus is to build capacity and options for a domestic pelagic fishery. This includes approaches to improve the business feasibility of small-scale, locally-owned and operated vessels and businesses,” MNRET Minister Umiich Sengebau said in a June letter to   Maurice BrownjohnCommercial Manager of PNA Office.

Sengebau said Palau is also looking into options to promote “Palau to the tourism market through its conservation approach to sustainable pelagic fisheries, through such initiatives as the Choose Pelagics Presidential directive.”

He said Palau is also exploring the potential promotion of Palau’s FADs-free zone through Pacifical, and “through unique, locally produced souvenir jars and cans, or ‘Fish With A Story’

He said micro canning will help improve food security and provide employment and business opportunities for Palauans at the same time, providing tuna canning training for small and medium enterprises (SME) in Palau.

“The training is aimed at individuals who intend to produce canned foods on the micro or small commercial scale. Participants will learn how to preserve tuna and other pelagic fish, as well as other seafood, meats, fruits, and vegetables,” MNRET public announcement said last month.

The 5-day training will be delivered through lectures, tutorials, group discussions, and practical sessions. Topics covered include Introduction to Canning; Pre-cooking Tuna in Commercial Operations; Retort Systems and Container Handling; Packaging Systems for Processed Foods; Microbiology of Canned Foods; Principles of Thermal Processing; Retort Operation & Production Records; Water Chlorination and Canning Sanitation; and Regulations relevant to Thermal Processing.

Participants who successfully complete the whole week of training and pass all exams will be issued a Retort Supervisor’s Certificate.

The five-day training is looking for participants who can commit to the full week and pass written exams and a practical exam. The course requires high school-level Math and English skills.

 Australia-based company FoodStream has conducted tuna processing training in Fiji and Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Microcanning in the Pacific started four years ago, Brownjohn said. He said there are volumes of “by-catch,” from tuna fishery although not suitable for large commercial exports but can still be perfect to eat and can be canned locally. He said jars could also be utilized to preserve food.

He said the training provided by FoodStream is the same qualification as you were trained in a reputable cannery in Thailand or somewhere else.

He said in Palau, small scale canning is also a way to attract tourism.

With tuna canning operation, “you are able to produce a shelf-stable product made in  Palau,” Brownjohn said.

“Palau is able to offer a jar, a fish, and a story behind it.”