The Government will work closely with the fishing industry to implement new policy initiatives announced by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill last week.
Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Patrick Basa held a meeting with representatives from the fishing industry last week to assure them.
The initiatives announced by Mr O’Neill included a rebate being offered to fishing companies so that they land their catches onshore to be processed.
The Government forecasts that this would prompt the existing processors to lift their capacity from about 30 percent to about 70 percent. This would create more jobs for Papua New Guineans, and ensure revenue and foreign exchange that is lost to countries like Philippines and Thailand are retained. But the companies say they have not seen the details of the rebates scheme, and are worried that its fast implementation would lead to them make financial losses, resulting in the closure of their business.
Chief among their concerns is the high cost of doing business in PNG, poor infrastructure, lack of adequate and reliable power supply, and high labour cost.
Minister Basa told the representatives that the government appreciates their concerns, and will work closely with them to ensure their concerns are accommodated and addressed. He told them the government was not against the companies, but working towards ensuring a greater return to its people for the harvest of their resource.
Minister Basa instructed the National Fisheries Authority to work with the industry representatives in the nest three months to develop a matrix on the way forward. He directed, among other things, for the NFA to identify the catches by fleets over the last 5 years in PNG and where these fish are landed or exported.
He directed that these data be clear on whether these catches are recorded as catches from Distant Fishing Nations, Locally based foreign flagged vessels, or PNG flagged vessels.
“We need to know the exact volume of catches and by fleets. Further to that I want to also know the volume of catches by fleets that is landed in Bangkok and the Philippines,” the Minister said.
With four processing plants already operating in Malahang Industrial Centre in Lae, and another two being planned, the government is pushing ahead to build a wharf dedicated to serve fishing companies.
That wharf is to be built in nearby Wagung, and this would address one of the concerns of the fishing industry – the lack of a proper port facility for fish.