ABAC identifies Papua New Guinea’s fisheries as outstanding growth area


Papua New Guinea has significant opportunities for employment and foreign exchange from its fisheries, but only if it can develop the necessary policies and infrastructure. That was the conclusion from meetings of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).

Fisheries processing plant. Source: MTDP

Speaking at an ABAC breakfast earlier this month in Port Moresby, ABAC member Wayne Golding said that PNG’s fisheries industry has the potential to generate US$1 billion a year in revenues.

The industry is also labour intensive, he noted, claiming an additional 250,000 people could be employed.

‘These two things can be achieved in 18 to 24 months. It is in your backyard, you own it.

‘Globally supply would not be able to keep up with demand.’

‘Sixty per cent of the tuna in this region comes out of our own waters.

Working groups

ABAC’s Wayne Golding. Source: ABAC

Golding said two ABAC working groups looked at issues like global demand, price elasticity and industry direction.

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The conclusion was that globally supply would not be able to keep up with demand.

‘What we have is a diminishing supply chain against demand for wild fishes.

‘So the world is moving more towards aquaculture fisheries in order to bridge the difference.

‘It means that in PNG we have to engage with our resources to convert it into added value.

‘It has been very well recognised globally that we are the last bastion of assets in wild fisheries.


Golding said the PNG industry needs to be more productive.

‘Fisheries have a 40 per cent wastage factor: from one fish, 40 per cent is classified as by-product or wastage.

‘There is now technology coming into play that says that this should be zero.

‘The private sector cannot do it unless the private sector owns it and manages it themselves and locks out everybody else.’

‘So, we are losing 40 per cent of the global protein in the fishing industry.

‘That is now a key investment factor. There is a conversion into 100 per cent protein with no wastage. The other thing is that if you want to get fisheries going we have to beef up our infrastructure.’


Golding says to take advantage of the opportunity, the PNG Government has to develop better infrastructure.

‘If you don’t have port facilities, if you don’t have specialist unloading fisheries facilities, and specialist equipment to load finished product—these are things that hinder capacity.

‘This is a responsibility of the state. That is what came out of the meeting.

‘The private sector cannot do it unless the private sector owns it and manages it themselves and locks out everybody else.

‘That is what is happening in PNG. We have big companies here that have locked out (competitors) and they want to prevent the growth of the industry.

‘They want to have a monopolistic approach. That has got to change.”


Golding says another challenge is a lack of ‘visibility’ in the international market.

‘We need to be able to market ourselves.’

‘We don’t promote our product well enough.’

Golding says PNG fishing needs to be marketed as more than just ‘a can of fish’ that provides protein.

‘We need to be able to market ourselves in order to up the price of fish so that there is a bit of value for the fishing.’


Golding said the impact of fishing on the ecology of Pacific island countries is another requirement.

‘A lot of countries that have a sea shore line need fisheries to provide the protein.

‘But the big fishing companies are actually wiping out that capacity.

‘So, now there is a need to look at how we manage the whole ecosystem.’

Papua New Guinea’s fisheries Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 2.4 million square kilometres is the largest in the South Pacific and supplies about 18 per cent of the world’s tuna catch, a percentage that has been steadily rising since 2010.

Frozen tuna constitutes about half of PNG’s tuna exports, followed by canned tuna, cooked loins, fishmeal and chilled tuna.

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