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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Finance Shortfalls Hampering Tongan Fisheries Industry
Only 2 locally-licensed fishing boats left in country

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 15, 2012) – A Tongan fisheries company says the biggest constraint for Tonga’s fisheries industry is a lack of access to finance.

At its peak in 2002, there were 26 fishing vessels in Tonga that processed their catch in Tonga, and 14 of those were locally-owned.

Now there are just two locally licensed fishing boats, and one locally based foreign company.

The managing director of Alatini Fisheries in Tonga, Tricia Emberson, says there is a need for money.

"Fishing is a capital intensive industry, we need to be able to have access to finance. Our interest rates, the cost of finance is also very high. We would be paying anywhere between 10 and 13 or 14 percent interest on finance. We also have to look at our infrastructure, we’ve got a lot of investment that needs to be made in infrastructure. It actually all revolves around money, really."

Tricia Emberson says it seems the government finds it easier to grant licenses to foreign vessels, with six more licenses granted and just one required to off-load its catch in Tonga. None of them is expected to employ Tongans.

Radio New Zealand International:
Copyright 2012 RNZI. All Rights Reserved

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