2 PH tuna firms, Thai Union to open cannery in PNG

Edwin G. Espejo
Frabelle Fishing Corp and Century Canning Corp have partnered with Thailand's Thai Union to put up a 200-metric ton plant in Papua New Guinea

MANILA, Philippines – Two Philippine tuna companies have partnered with Thailand’s Thai Union Corp, the second-largest tuna canner in the world, to put up a US$37.6-million canning plant in Papua New Guinea, according to reports.

Frabelle Fishing Corp and Century Canning Corp are joining Thai Union in setting up a 200-metric ton plant called Majestic Seafood, which will open in two months. 

Majestic Seafood will bring the total daily canned tuna production of Papua New Guinea to more than 1,200 metric tons, beating the Philippines’ capacity of an average of 750 metric tons per day.

The Western Pacific country recently said it had overtaken the Philippines as the world’s second-biggest producer of canned tuna. Thailand is the world’s largest canned tuna producer.

Filipino tuna fishing companies began to establish operations in Papua New Guinea in the late 90s due to declining tuna catch in Philippine waters.

At the turn of the century, however, Papua New Guinea started regulating tuna fishing within its territorial waters. Today, it would only allow foreign companies to access its fishing grounds if they set up canning and processing plants in the island. General Santos City-based RD Tuna was the first to establish a cannery there. Prior to the venture with Thai Union, Frabelle Fishing was also operating its own canning plant in Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea lies in the middle of the tuna migratory path that stretches from the Atlantic and Indian oceans and ends up in the Sulu Sea southwest of the Philippines.

Conservation efforts by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to arrest declining tuna catch and to replenish tuna stocks in recent years have led to increasing protectionist policies among tuna producing countries.

Many countries in the region have imposed fishing bans on foreign fishing vessels in their territorial waters.

Papua New Guinea is among the WCPFC member countries that are cashing in on growing global demand for canned, processed and fresh tuna.

The Majestic Seafood plant will be its biggest canning plant. – Rappler.com

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