Prime Minister Hon. James Marape has issued a directive stating that all fisheries catches must be processed in Papua New Guinea (PNG) for export, rather than being sent overseas.

This directive follows the signing of a memorandum-of-understanding (MOU) between RD Fishing Group (RDFG) of the Philippines and the PNG Government on Friday, July 14, 2023.

Covering an extended reef system and extensive coastline, Papua New Guinea’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) spans 2.4 million square kilometres, making it the largest in the South Pacific. The country accounts for approximately 18 percent of the world’s tuna catch and controls around 15 percent of the global tuna trade, with an estimated value between US$4-US$5 billion (K13.3-K16.9 billion).

However, the majority of this catch is currently processed overseas, depriving the country of significant benefits from its maritime resources.

“I will soon issue notice to all fishing companies operating within our waters that, under our Domestication Policy, all catches must be brought back inshore and processed in the country,” stated Prime Minister Marape.

He further emphasised, “There will be no unmarked ships in our waters, no high-seas fish transfers to overseas motherships, and all fishing vessels in our territorial waters will be equipped with cameras to monitor their catches. Processing of our fish in-country must be implemented within the next four years.”

The MOU was signed by RDFG Chairman Ronnel Rivera, National Fisheries Authority (NFA) Managing Director Justin Ilakini, Kumul Consolidated Holdings (KCH) Managing Director Dr. David Kavanamur, and International Trade and Investment Secretary Jacinta Warakai-Manua. Ministers for International Trade and Investment, Hon. Richard Maru; State Enterprises, Hon. William Duma; and Fisheries, Hon. Minister Wong, were also present as witnesses alongside Prime Minister Marape.

As part of the MOU, RDFG and the PNG Government will enter negotiations to establish a fishing company in Madang. The primary objective of this agreement is to define the commercial terms for a joint-venture (JV) company, responsible for fishing and processing all catches, within a new cannery located in the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) in Madang. The PMIZ is designated as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

A State Negotiating Team (SNT) has been appointed and granted a three-month period to finalise negotiations and present a mutually-agreeable proposal to the National Executive Council. Successful outcomes from these negotiations will pave the way for the establishment of the proposed new fishing company.

Prime Minister Marape expressed appreciation for Minister Jelta Wong’s strong leadership in the fisheries sector and acknowledged the continuous growth of the industry as a significant revenue generator for the country.

“The fisheries sector, under the NFA, is expanding and contributing sustainable revenue to our nation. We must further foster its growth,” stated Prime Minister Marape.

He also commended RDFG for being the pioneer in downstream tuna processing since 1997 and for providing employment opportunities to thousands of Papua New Guineans