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Helping the Marshall Islands to make more from tuna

FISH4ACP starts implementing upgrading strategy to support economic growth and local employment, while safeguarding the environment

9 November 2022, Majuro – Around 60 representatives of the tuna sector, government officials, financial partners and affiliated organizations rallied behind a ten-year plan to bring more added value of tuna fishing to the Marshall Islands and make this sector more sustainable – and start implementing plans to upgrade the Pacific Island nations’ tuna value chain. 

“Tuna accounts for almost all national fisheries production and exports from the Marshall Islands,” said John M. Silk, Minister of Natural Resources and Commerce, at a ceremony to launch a ten-year strategy to upgrade the Marshallese purse seine tuna value chain. “This plan will help increase the economic and social benefits of tuna fishing for the people of the Marshall Islands.” 

One of the strategy’s main objectives is to strengthen the Marshall Islands position as a tuna hub that will generate an estimated USD 33 millions of direct value added from purse seine tuna fishing in ten years’ time, while at the same time ensuring that 30 per cent of tuna catches will be containerized.   

Achieving this goal would reverse the prevailing situation in which less than 5 per cent of tuna catches are containerized on the Marshall Islands, despite its capital Majuro being one of the world’s leading transshipment ports, where an average of 315 000 tonnes of tuna passed per year from 2014-2019, most of it from offshore industrial fishing. 

The upgrading strategy is the result of a sector wide dialogue spearheaded by FISH4ACP, an initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) implemented by FAO with funding from the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) aimed at making fisheries and aquaculture value chains more sustainable.  

On behalf of BMZ, Janina Laurent, Project Advisor Low Carbon Sea Transport, German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) said: “It is encouraging that this strategy looks at economic and social and environmental prosperity.”  

Janina Laurent noted that the strategy is estimated to generate more than 1 000 jobs, while increased use of renewable energy by main players of the Marshallese tuna sector would reduce its ecological footprint.  

“The purpose of FISH4ACP is to create value for fisheries in ACP countries,” said Sujiro Seam, Ambassador and Head of the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific, adding: “In the Marshall Islands the focus will be on containerization and innovative technologies, so that the country can make the most of its fishery's resources.” 

“FAO is happy to contribute to a blue transformation of the Marshallese purse seine tuna value chain,” said Xiangjun Yao, FAO’s Subregional Coordinator for the Pacific, who said FISH4ACP will work in close collaboration with the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA), adding: “Partnership is key to realising this vision for a better and more sustainable future of tuna fishing on the Marshall Islands.” 

Xiangjun Yao explained that FISH4ACP would focus on increasing tuna containerization for sale to canneries or traders and on increasing tuna landings and exports through the establishment of a competent authority.  

She added that FISH4ACP will also work to improve Marshallese tuna storage and sorting facilities by expanding cold storage capacity and improving social and environmental sustainability by promoting cultural and gender sensitivity and the use of renewable energy.