Comparative advantage, competitive edge, and economic realities for Pacific fisheries--FFA Economic Indicators Report 2014

FFA's annual update monitoring key parameters for the economic conditions of the WCPO tuna fishery and its impact on FFA members is attached for download, with some amendments for public use and sharing. The Economic Indicators report is divided into 4 broad sections:  ‘Global tuna production’ (Section 2), WCP-CA estimated catch, values and economic conditions, (Section 3), ‘Domestic development indicators’ (Section 4) and Summary and conclusions (Section 5).

All catch and effort data in this report for WCPO/WCP-CA and FFA member waters are provided by the the SPC Oceanic Fisheries Program, noting that there have been important revisions to previous data used and that these data may change further, especially for 2013. Data from other RMFOs are also used. Economic conditions for the fleets in the WCPO in recent years have been mixed. For 2013, it appears that for the fleets considered (purse seine, southern albacore fisheries and fresh tuna sashimi longling) the conditions deteriorated compared to 2012.

The purse seine fleets, following substantially improved and sustained high fish prices and steady catch rates in prior years, experienced deterioration in conditions with lower CPUEs and skipjack prices but nonetheless overall economic conditions remain buoyant with skipjack prices at their second highest level on record and CPUE at its fourth highest on record. The Southern albacore longline fleets, on the other hand, continue to be adversely affected by the sustained significant downtrends in catch rates as well as the more recent downturn in prices, which as highlighted earlier and in this report are both  likely caused by the significant recent growth in effort and catch (with catch increases being proportionately significantly less than the effort increase). The cost of this to the domestic fleets has been high. The fresh sashimi fleets overall conditions also continued to deteriorated in the reporting period and the immediate outlook for the fleets is likely for continuation of unfavourable economic conditions. 

While economic conditions have deteriorated since 2012 FFA member countries have been able to continue to grow the benefits they generate from the fishery. With  regard to the purse seine fishery the VDS where the minimum benchmark price for a day has increased from $5,000 to $6,000 per day and will increase again in 2015 to $8,000 and returns from US Treaty  will have also grown substantially and will continue to do so in 2015. At the same time those with domestication policies in place through development of own fleets and/or accommodating foreign locally based fleets (vessel re-flagging for convenience aside), and/or onshore processing have benefitted from increased monetary contributions to their GDPs, increased employment, exports and related spinoff effects. Nonetheless, member countries have challenges that will continue to intensify. Controlling fishing effort in both the purse seine and longline fisheries in order to sustain catch rates, fish prices and the value of access to the fishery is critical. 

The comparative advantages and competitiveness at the processing and international trade levels are continually being challenged by lower cost and more efficient producing centres in Asia and elsewhere. In addition, increasingly stringent market access measures are being introduced, particularly for the EU market. It is critical that comparative advantages be maintained and competitiveness enhanced.  Preferential access especially to the EU market must be maintained or improved (such as through harnessing of the IEPA and extension of global sourcing to unprocessed tuna products). 

On the data aspect of domestic indicators, timeliness and provision of data are the main issues. The verification aspect was also an issue but is now being addressed. The importance of timeliness and provision of data should be reflected in an improved robustness of estimates for the indicators.

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