15 Nov 2012

Lack of finance restricts Tonga fishing, says company

1:01 pm on 15 November 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 % 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.