Papua New Guinea turns toward China, seeks help with tuna processing investment

A Chinese fishing firm is edging towards a deal to allow it access to the waters off Papua New Guinea with six large fishing vessels. The fleet is set to sail after a team of eight officials from the Pacific island state visited the company at its home port in Zhejiang Province.

The officials inspected safety and tracking devices aboard six vessels of the Wenzhou Da Zhou Distant Water Fishing Co. They were accompanied by company executives and officials from local government in Dontou County, near the city of Wenzhou, a major export-focused manufacturing hub.

Entering Papua New Guinea would represent the “most cherished wish” of his company, Wenzhou Da Zhou General Manager Yang Jin Ying told the press after the inspections.

An important tuna hub, Papua New Guinea has drawn closer to China rather than its traditional ally and southern neighbor, Australia, under the leadership of newly elected prime minister James Marape. Marape has announced he wants a free trade deal with China and wants to restructure the country’s national debt with Chinese loans. 

Headquartered in the capital of Port Moresby, the country’s primary regulatory and management body, the  National Fisheries Authority, has over the past decade sought investors to build out its tuna processing industry. Much of the local catch has traditionally been shipped to Japan and South Korea, and the Philippines.

Led by governor Nakikus Konga, a delegation from Papua New Guinea’s East New Great Britain Province last year traveled to southern China to meet with senior officials from several Fujian fishing firms, including Zhong Hong Fishery Co., which signed a cooperative agreement in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea’s capital, in June 2018, along with both the national ministry of fisheries and the East New Britain government, according to the Ocean and Fisheries Bureau.  


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