Landowners missing out from tuna company that stays in the red

Republished from: The National

Fisheries Minister Patrick Basa says a tuna company in East Sepik has never declared profits annually since it started more than 10 years ago.
“I have to honestly tell the people in the project-impacted areas in Wewak that the company is not making money so they are unable to provide benefits to the local people,” Basa said.
He said another reason why people were not benefitting from their marine resources was that they usually signed agreements directly with the developers without involving the National Fisheries Authority.
“This problem is not only faced by people in Wewak but also in Morobe and Madang. Some of these tuna canneries, when signing agreements in the first place, sign it with the local people and ignore NFA,” Basa said.
“Like in Lae, the Bup landowners signed agreement with Majestic and Nambawan Sea Food companies without involving NFA. And today they are coming to NFA with their problems for NFA to solve when they see that they are not getting the K20 million they have asked for from the companies according to the agreement that they had signed with those companies.
“It is like the cannery in Wewak. But I will find out more from NFA what type of agreements and benefits the landowners in Wewak have signed with the company.”
Basa also said that NFA collected its income from the “vessel day scheme” (VDS) with tuna companies operating throughout PNG.
“That amounts to about K400 million annually which is from VDS. I believe in the case of the cannery operator in Wewak for so many years now they have not declared profit at all and I have to tell the local people that if the company is not making profit, then how they can pay benefits to the resource owners?”
East Sepik Governor Allan Bird said local people in Wewak from the project-impacted area were not getting benefits from their fishing resources. He also wanted to know how the K400 million that NFA generated annually from various incomes from the fishing companies operating in PNG was being spent.