Papua New Guinea's 5957 million square
kilometre Exclusive Economic Zone is one
of the largest marine jurisdictional zones
in the Pacific and the richest in fisheries
resources in the region.
The extensive and diverse zone includes
17,000 kilometres of coastline. Deltaic
flood plains and barrier-lagoon complexes
extend for 4,250 kilometres, or approximately
a quarter of the total coastline. Islands
and atolls account for 4,180 kilometres,
or nearly one quarter of the total.
Besides abundant tuna and other pelagic
species, several other commercially-important
fish, shellfish and sedentary species are
found in Papua New Guinea's waters. More
than 10,000 species of fish, molluscs and
crustaceans have so far been identified.
Current production of fish in the country
is estimated at about 145,000 metric tonnes
per annum of tuna and tuna-like species
and other pelagic fish. It is estimated
that the potential yield of those species
is about 370,000 metric tonnes per annum.
The total resource yield has the potential
to reach 800,000 tonnes of fish and marine
Other coastal resources like reef and lagoon
fish show a potential for considerable increases
Coastal commercial fishing operations are
based primarily on prawns, lobster and barramundi
and a collection of sedentary fisheries
resources, including beche-de-mer, trochus
shells, pearl shell and green snail. The
operations are carried out by small-scale
commercial fishermen, who sell their product
to a range of small to medium-sized fish
processing and marketing entrepreneurs.
Sea cucumber is collected and processed
for export. The trade in shells with lustrous
interiors is small, but growing.
The prawn fishing effort is mainly concentrated
in the Gulf of Papua, the Torres Strait
and, to a lesser extent, in Orangerie Bay
in Milne Bay Province. Lobster is caught
by local dive fishermen in the Torres Straits
and the Gulf of Papua. Barramundi is caught
by fishermen in Western and Gulf Provinces,
mainly for export to Australia.
Domestic private investment in commercial
fisheries in Papua New Guinea is small.
Inland fish production is still very much
underdeveloped, but commercial farming of
trout and carp has been undertaken by a
few farmers in the Highlands regions. Inland
fish production amounts to an estimated
10 metric tonnes annually and consists mainly
of carp, tilapia and freshwater prawns,
with 70 metric tonnes from trout and carp
The tuna industry has the greatest potential
for fishery development. More than 40 per
cent of the Western Pacific's tuna catch
is harvested from Papua New Guinea's waters.
Tuna is currently taken by distant water
fishing vessels operating under licence.
The current haul primarily comprises skipjack,
yellow fin and bigeye tuna taken by purse
seiners and long-liners from Japan, Taiwan,
the United States, Korea, the Philippines
and chartered vessels from Pacific Island
The Government has established a domestic
tuna policy, but the country lacks such
a fishing fleet and an on-shore processing
industry has not been available to properly
utilise the resource.
Two separate agreements have however, been
signed between the Government and two private
canning companies to develop tuna canneries
in Madang Province. A mackerel cannery is
already into production in Lae.
The Papua New Guinea Government is exploring
avenues for the privatisation of various
aspects of its coastal fisheries programme.
Private sector participation is to be promoted
in the areas of handling, processing and
marketing of marine products, craft construction,
repairs and maintenance, engine sales and
ice and fishing equipment sales.
The Government is playing a key role in
the management of the fishing industry.
The long-term sustainability of the resources
and the environmental impact are the key
factors for the long-term sustainability,
growth and development of the fisheries
Unlike the country's vast mineral resources,
fisheries are renewable, and, if exploited
within the limits of sustainable yields,
they will generate, on a long-term basis,
food, income and employment opportunities
for Papua New Guineans.
The major emphasis of the Government's
policy is the development of industrial
and commercial fisheries which will help
to provide the infrastructure necessary
for small and medium scale fisheries development.
The Government intends to support the development
of commercial mariculture projects The operations
will, however, be subject to licensing in
order to regulate the development of the
industry. In line with the overall environmental
policy, all projects will be subjected to
a complete environmental impact assessment.
An integrated surveillance system is being
installed. A national observer programme
is being developed closely with the Forum
Fisheries Agency (FFA), to monitor the operations
of distant water fishing vessels and linkages
will be maintained with respect to regional
The newly formed National Fisheries Authority
has a mandate to improve efficiency and
accountability in the industry as well as
respond directly to the needs of the fishing
industry. The move is in line with the present
trend in other renewable resources sectors,
such as agriculture and forestry.
Potential investment opportunities in the
fisheries sector can be obtained through
the Fisheries Sector Manual and the project
profiles being promoted by the Investment