PAPUA New Guinea can now access fish caught in waters around the world by PNG-licenced domestic and foreign vessels, thanks to the interim economic partnership agreement it signed with European Union last July.
And for PNG to continue to sell its fish products, especially tuna, to the EU markets, all EU-bound fish products must be processed onshore in PNG, National Fisheries Authority (NFA) managing director Sylvester Pokajam said.
These PNG exports will enter EU duty-free, thanks to IEPA.
But there is yet a new regulation that EU would carry out come Jan 1 next year.
Under the new regulation, every foreign vessel’s fish catch must be cleared by its own country before it offloads to the licence-issuing countries like PNG.
So foreign vessels that have NFA-issued licences would have to get clearance from their respective governments before off-loading in PNG.
“We have seen that its very important for us … most of the boats that we license are foreign flag, or in fact, most of the boat that we license to fish whether under the bilateral access agreement or domestically-based foreign vessels, which offload all the catch to PNG onshore for processing, are subject to this regulation.
“Because this regulation says before an export is made to EU via onshore processing (plant), the catch has to be authorised by the flag state, not licensing authority,” Mr Pokajam said yesterday in Port Moresby.
He stressed yet again another of EU’s regulations which he and Minister Ben Semri had been very vocal about.
He said the African, Pacific, and Caribbean countries did not welcome the new regulation and asked EU to extend by another year in order for these countries to build on capacity.
But EU maintained otherwise.
Mr Pokajam said they consulted Philippine-based bureau of fisheries and aquatic resources (BFAR) on the regulation.
Representatives from BFAR, fish industry and NFA’s officers from Audit and Certification section would travel to Brussels next Saturday to meet with EU representatives.
PNG was the first to sign the IEPA for duty-free exports for both countries.
Fiji will sign soon for its sugar exports.