Change in the 1960s and 1970s

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CHANGE IN THE 1960s AND 1970s

Japanese companies had established through various arrangements substantial locally-based pole-and-line tuna fishing presence in several Pacific Island countries, including Papua New Guinea (1970), Solomon Islands (1971) and Fiji (1976). The longline fleets of Japan were fishing throughout the Pacific Islands, as well as the broader Pacific Ocean and into the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. A number of events occurred which had a negative effect on the profitability of Japanese tuna fishing operations. These included the oil price shocks of 1972/1978 and the claims of extended maritime jurisdiction. The latter resulted in Japan having to pay for access to places which had previously been considered high seas areas. Japan concluded its first access agreement in the Pacific Islands region with Papua New Guinea in 1978. By 1981 Japan had access agreements with nine countries and territories in the region (Doulman, 1987).

New players appeared on the Pacific Islands tuna scene. In the mid-1960s, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan (Province of China), began large-scale tuna longline fisheries and by the 1970s they were a major competitor to Japanese in longlining for albacore. During the same period, the Japanese economy developed and the value of the yen strengthened, resulting in reduced returns from Japanese albacore longlining. Concurrently, the increasing affluence of the Japanese consumer created greater demand for sashimi grade tuna. The Japanese fleet responded to these signals, developed ultra-low temperature on-board freezing, and switched effort out of albacore longlining and into that for frozen sashimi (Lightfoot, 1997). Part of this switch involved fishing deeper to catch bigeye in cooler water (Langley, 2003). The sashimi longliners were usually newer and based outside the Pacific Islands area, rather than at the Japanese bases established several years earlier.

The albacore longliners from the Republic of Korea and Taiwan (Province of China) tended to move into those bases.

Another important tuna development in the Pacific Island area in the 1970s was the start of the era of government-owned national tuna fishing companies. These included: Fiji (Ika Corporation), Tuvalu (NAFICOT), Kiribati (Te Mautari), Tonga (Sea Star), and the Federated States of Micronesia (National Fishing Corporation and 13 other national/state fishing companies). Some of the experienced gained from these companies included:

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