New Guinea Marine Products is a wholly PNG-owned prawn and tuna fishing operation which operates a fleet of prawn trawlers and long-line tuna fishing boats in the Gulf of Papua and the Coral Sea.
The oldest commercial fishing company in PNG, New Guinea Marine Products was established by a Japanese corporation in 1973. The first activity was fishing for skipjack tuna off the coast of Madang. This was followed a couple of years later by prawn fishing in the Gulf of Papua. By the time the PNG Government acquired shares in the company in I983, New Guinea Marine Products had become, almost entirely, a prawn fishing operation. The fleet consisted of six prawn trawlers and the catch was exported to both Japan and Australia. In 1994, K & K Fisheries Ltd, the present owners, bought up all the Japanese and PNG shares and New Guinea Marine Products is now a wholly PNG-owned company.
In the same year, in an exciting development, at present operating on a trial basis, the company resumed tuna fishing.
Tuna are large fish which live 100-250 metres deep in the ocean. They can weigh up to 600 pounds for a single fish. They are caught by either purse seine nets or long lines. New Guinea Marine Products uses long lines. These are a set of baited lines which hang from a 1,000 metre long travel line, 80 metres deep in the ocean. The fish are exported to Japan on commercial Air Niugini flights.
While prawns are a relatively steady fishery, especially since a closed season was introduced at the beginning of this year, tuna, the more valuable fish, cannot yet be regarded as a sure thing. Many problems beset the commercial fisherman in PNG, not the least being heavy PNG government taxes on everything from bait to the final export duty.
New Guinea Marine expects to discover within the next few months whether its estimate of an annual catch of 120 tonnes of tuna will be realised.