Better cooperation on fisheries could help the Pacific net additional US$344 million every year, says World Bank report

May 12, 2016

PORT VILA, May 12, 2016 – A new World Bank report says better management of tuna fisheries can help Pacific Island countries gain as much as US$344 million per year in additional sustainable revenues and create 7,500 to 15,000 jobs by 2040.

The Pacific Possible: Tuna Fisheries report, which was released for public comment today at the annual Forum Fisheries Committee Meeting in Port Vila, outlines a best-case scenario for the year 2040, where tuna fisheries will play a greater role in the region’s economic growth. The report recommends five policy strategies: more regional integration; efficient fishing practices and catch limits; flexible access and harvest rights for fleets; investment in skills and labor; and the inclusion of coastal communities in fisheries planning.

“The key challenge for Pacific Island countries is to sustainably harness a greater share of the benefits from their tuna fisheries without depleting fish stocks,” said the report’s co-author, Duke University researcher John Virdin. “By improving sustainability through maintaining firm and shared catch limits, and by increasing economic value through collaborative access regimes such as the vessel day scheme, Pacific Island countries have the potential to significantly boost public revenues and support thousands of new jobs.”

The report builds on work undertaken by the Forum Fisheries Agency and the Pacific Community through the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries, which was endorsed by Pacific Island Forum leaders in 2015.

The waters of Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands are home to one of the world’s richest, and last, healthy tuna fisheries, supplying some 34 percent of the world’s tuna catch each year, with an estimated delivered value of US$3.4 billion in 2013. From these resources, Pacific Island countries received net economic benefits of approximately US$500 million in 2013 – a figure that the Pacific Possible report suggests could be much greater.

“Improved sustainable management of tuna fisheries represents a significant opportunity for certain Pacific Island countries to boost their broader economic growth and long-term security,” said Franz Drees-Gross, World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Pacific Islands. We hope this report will assist Pacific Island governments in sustainably capturing more of the value this limited natural resource represents.”

The report is the second of seven in the World Bank’s Pacific Possible series, which looks at potentially transformative opportunities for Pacific Island countries that warrant further research, understanding and policy action. The series aims to inform government and stakeholder decisions on planning and long-term decision-making.


To read the Pacific Possible: Tuna Fisheries paper in full, please visit Comments or feedback will be accepted via email to until Thursday 9 June 2016.



This paper is one part of the Pacific Possible series, which looks at genuinely transformative opportunities that exist for Pacific Island countries over the next 25 years and identifies the region’s biggest challenges that require urgent action.

Making the most of these opportunities will often require collaboration not only between Pacific Island Governments, but also with neighbouring countries on the Pacific Rim. The findings presented in Pacific Possible will provide governments and policy-makers with specific insights into what each area could mean for the economy, for employment, for government income and spending.

To learn more, visit, or join the conversation online with the hashtag #PacificPossible.

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