Majestic opening starts fish cannery boost for Lae


Lae is set to become the South Pacific’s main fish processing centre, with the opening of one massive new cannery this week, the commencement of construction for another, and more on the drawing board.

Credit: International Food Corporation

Credit: International Food Corporation

The Thailand fishing company, Thai Union, this week opened the region’s biggest fish processing centre, Majestic Union. On the same day, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill turned the soil for another new plant – a joint Taiwanese-Filipino partnership involving Frabelle Fishing Corporation – which will process 200 metric tonnes of fish per day when it opens.

As well, two more Asian consortia are planning to build canneries (see table below).

Lae: a hub for fish processing

As well, as the Majestic Union plant, other fish processing plants are:

  • The Malaysian-based International Food Corporation processes imported mackerell in Lae;
  • Philippines-based Frabelle operates a tuna processing plant in the city.

In addition to the above, the following plants are planned:

  • The Chinese-owned Zhoushan Zhenyang Deep-Sea Fishing Company plans to build a tuna loin plant to process 250–300 m/t per day. The new plant will employ 3,000 local workers.
  • The Korean firm, Dongwon, is also seeking to build a tuna loin plant in Lae.
  • Nambawan Seafood, a joint venture between Trans Pacific Journey Corporation and TSP Marine of the Philippines and a Taiwanese company.

As we reported in February, Majestic Seafood is a joint-venture between Frabelle Fishing Corporation of the Philippines, Philippine-based Century Canning Corporation, and Thailand’s Thai Union Corporation (a subsidiary of Thai Union Frozen Products—the largest tuna canner in the world).

The Majestic plant opened on 10 June, and in its first phase will process 150 metric tonnes of tuna per day, employing 2500 people, mainly women. That will rise to 350 m/t per day when the second phase is completed in three-to-five years.

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‘Most advanced in the world’

Sylvester Pokajam, Managing Director of PNG’s National Fisheries Authority, told Business Advantage PNG that the Majestic plant would eventually have the capacity to process 600 m/t of tuna per day.

He said the plant has ‘the most advanced tuna processing equipment’ in the world.

Alan MacLay, President of the Lae Chamber of Commerce said the Majestic plant would be ‘absolutely huge’.

He said the employment of locals, particularly women, from nearby villages and settlements, will have a positive impact on crime in the area, where there’ve been ethnic clashes over the last 18 months.

Sylvester Pokajam estimated when all six plants are up and running, they will employ as many as 50,000 people with spin-offs for another 100,000. He also indicated the canneries will need to employ people from other villagers, as there ‘are not enough people in Lae’ to satisfy the demand for workers.

He also described Lae landowners as ‘smart’ in recognising the benefits of leasing land to the canneries on 99-year terms.

‘It will be a benchmark for many other landowners in PNG,’ he said.