12th Infofish World Tuna Trade Conference and Exhibition. (Photo: INFOFISH)
Tuna industry anxious to increase exports
Friday, May 25, 2012, 15:40 (GMT + 9)
The country has been trying to up its tuna exports in 2012 to make up for a drop last year. The world's largest tuna exporter is also facing rocketing prices of raw materials due to declining global catches resulting from tighter international restrictions and conservation measures, according to Agriculture Minister Theera Wongsamut.
"Our industry has to shoulder higher costs," said Theera at the 12th Infofish World Tuna Trade Conference and Exhibition.
|Minister Theera Wongsamu at 12th Infofish World Tuna Trade Conference and Exhibition. (Photo: Infofish)
The cost and freight (CFR) price of skipjack raw material climbed from USD 918 in 2006 to USD 1,800 - USD 2,025 per ton in 2011, Infofish informed.
Last year, Thailand exported 594,751 tonnes of tuna, a drop of almost 2 per cent by volume, worth THB 60 billion (USD 1.9 billion). Import of frozen tuna fell by 5.3 per cent to 787,088 tonnes, mainly from Taiwan, the US, South Korea, Vanuatu, Japan, the Marshall Islands, Europe and the Maldives, Bangkok Post reports.
Wimol Jantrarotai, director-general of the Thai Fishery Department, said it is "unlikely" that tuna exports would continue to drop and that a rebound is largely contingent on how much raw tuna can be procured. Thailand imports as much as 85 per cent of 70,000-80,000 tonnes of the raw material required for production.
"Apart from the declining supply of tuna, limits on the number of tuna ships and pirate attacks have dampened the industry's prospects even as demand keeps rising in the global market," explained Wimol.
Catches of five major tuna species have idled at around 4.3-4.4 million tonnes in recent years due to declining stocks, noted Infofish.
Narin Niruttinanon, deputy general manager of Thai Union Manufacturing Co, thinks Thailand's tuna exports could continue to skid this year because the supply of raw material is limited.
Thai Union Frozen Products Plc (TUF) has noted that rising competition to secure imported raw materials has prompted the company to discount the possibility of major domestic expansion. The group requires 300,000 tonnes a year of tuna for local production, of which 80 per cent is sourced from the Pacific Ocean and the balance from the Indian Ocean.
|Tuna salad. (Photo: TUF)
"Countries with tuna in their territory encourage foreign companies to set up manufacturing facilities in their country to create employment, while access fees to catch tuna have risen from USD 200,000- USD 300,000 per ship per year to USD 1 million," said Narin.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace this week accused the tuna industry of continuing to push forward the decimation of fish stocks and called for an end to fishing methods that produce bycatch and urged “less boats, more fish” at the Infofish convention.
Five tuna species are already classed as "threatened" or "near threatened" with extinction due to overfishing, according to the Red List of Threatened Species.
“The tuna industry is on course to fishing itself out of existence. If we want healthy oceans and a viable tuna industry tomorrow, we simply need fewer boats on the water taking tuna,” said Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner.
- Tuna companies join coalition to protect tuna stocks
By Natalia Real