Mozambique is counting on tuna fishing to increase tax revenue, but it may be too late

29 May 2018

The Mozambican government is relying on the tuna that fishing boats ordered in September 2013 are expected to catch to increase tax revenue, but it may already be too late, given current catch levels, according to an article published in the China-Lusophone Brief (CLBrief).

The article refers to an agreement signed in December 2017 by US businessman Erik Prince, chairman of Hong Kong-based Frontier Services Group (FSG), with the Mozambican government to establish a partnership to recover Mozambican tuna company Ematum.

The company, whose name was changed to Tunamar in April, with Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosário stating in parliament that “its constitution will make the Ematum fleet finally start operating, after years of inactivity in the port of Maputo,” was the first of three public companies to borrow large amounts from abroad with the state’s endorsement.

The company was set up in 2013 by the Mozambican secret services to fish for tuna in the country’s territorial waters, after which it took on a State-backed loan of US$850 million, which is partly used to buy 24 tuna vessels as well as military equipment.

The fish to be caught when the Tunamar fishing fleet finally starts operating is expected to target the Chinese market, given that Chinese state group CITIC is currently the largest investor in FSG, with a share of 28.4%, along with insurance company China Taiping.

The CLBrief article recalls that the fishing industry accounts for 4.0% of Mozambique’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with projections that legally caught fish this year will grow by 7.0% to 14,000 tons.

However, there are doubts that the start-up of the fleet of 24 Tunamar fishing boats will find large quantities of fish, given that the Mozambican government has already admitted that tuna schools in Mozambican waters are not sufficient for industrial fishing. (macauhub)