PAPUA New Guinea could lose millions of kina through a decline in its stock of tuna as a result of climate change.
While the Government is planning to build tuna canneries and processing plants, it does not have a plan to prevent the migration or loss of the tuna.
Prof Simon Saulei, who is the director of the Papua New Guinea Forest Research Institute, sounded this warning yesterday.
“In the next 20 to 30 years, there will be a decline in the tune stocks due to climate change and its adverse effects on the marine environment.
“However, the Government does not seem to have any strategic plan in place to counter tuna migration,” Pro Saulei said.
He said there was a likely trend that the country’s tuna stock, especially skipjack tuna, was projected to migrate to the east of the Pacific Ocean by the year 2050, thus leaving PNG’s waters with less tuna stock.
Information obtained from the National Fisheries Authority’s (NFA) websites and other sources showed that PNG had sustainable tuna catch rate of 300,000 metric tonnes annually.
The global tuna market is worth US6.1 billion annually, and if fully developed, PNG has the potential to supply 11% of that market.
This is part of the reason why the National Government is developing the Madang Marine Park.
In the Pacific alone, PNG’s tuna supplies account for 60% of the market.
A migration of tuna as a result of climate change, will change this economic picture and seriously affect PNG’s income from tuna.
Prof Saulei’s projection was a reaffirmation of a similar projection made by Espen Ronneberg, an adviser to the secretariat of the Pacific regional environment programme based in Apia, Samoa.
Mr Ronneberg also said in Apia two weeks ago that climate change was impacting the Pacific Island countries that would have an effect on the economy in particular, the fisheries industry.