Tuna and Snapper exports declined considerably

Marine Exports Volume May 2017

  May 17
Apr 17
Mar 17
Feb 17

Total Volume (metric tons)
36.4 300.8 161.0 238.1
Tuna 29.7 257.1 146.7 226.5
Snapper 5.8 35.7 6.1 8.0
Others 0.8 8.1 8.2 3.6
Aquarium Products (pieces)
6,049 7,000 5,574 9,264

Note: Numbers may not add up to the total volume due to rounding error.

Marine Exports

The total exported marine products1 recorded a major decline over the month of May 2017 by 264.4 metric tons (87.9%). This was mainly driven by a significant decrease in the volume of tuna and snapper exports by 227.3 metric tons (88.4%) and 29.9 metric tons (83.6 %) respectively. Furthermore, a decrease of 7.2 metric tons in exports of shark meat contributed to the overall decline. According to the Reserve Bank’s liaison program, less foreign vessels unloaded at Tonga’s port due to low catches of fish during the month drove the decline.

However, the total exported marine products rose by 512.9 metric tons (29.3%) over the year to May 2017 which was largely driven by a 484.1 metric tons (31.1%) increase in tuna exports. The export of snapper and shark meat also increased by 58.6 metric tons (64.7%) and 16.6 metric tons (32.9%) respectively. This offset a decrease in the volume of seaweed and reef fish exports over the year.

Aquarium Exports

The total aquarium exports continued to decrease over the month by 951 pieces (13.6%), driven by a substantial drop in the export of invertebrate and live hard coral by 927 pieces (23.1%) and 353 pieces (20.4%) respectively. This offset an increase in the export of live fish by 285 pieces (212.7%).

Similarly, total exported aquarium products declined over the year by 34,876 pieces (24.0%). This was due to lower exports of invertebrate (24,647 pieces), live fish (6,252 pieces), shellfish (3,198 pieces) and live hard coral (2,105 pieces) over the year, which outweighed an increase in exported soft coral of 1,326 pieces.

Exports Proceeds

The total value of marine exports2 proceeds was estimated by the Ministry of Fisheries to be $0.2 million over the month of May 2017. However, the Banking system reported a $0.6 million was received for export of fisheries products. The export proceeds fell over the month by $0.1 million (13.3%) which reflects the decline in the volume of exported tuna, snapper and shark meat. In addition, the United States remained the highest export destination for Tonga’s marine products.

Over the year to May 2017, the 29.3% growth in total marine exports coincided with a $2.3 million (34.3%) rise in the total proceeds received. The higher export receipts during the year is supported by the strengthening of the US dollar against the Tongan pa’anga as the export destination countries are mainly to the US, Hawaii and New Zealand. According to the liaison with individuals involved in the sector, the better weather conditions during the year and the increased number of fishing vessels supported by the Government Development loan scheme contributed to the annual growth.


The Reserve Bank expects the fisheries sector will continue to grow, with tuna exports being the main contributor. This is supported by the Ministry of Fisheries’ Fisheries Sector Plan, which included key principals to develop the Special Management Areas program, particularly on coastal and commercial fisheries and also the economic development of commercial fisheries and aquaculture. The duty exemptions policy on oil and fishing gear and the initiatives of Fisheries Development and Export Fund (FDEF) by the Government through its Government Development Loans facilitated by the Tonga Development Bank will also support growth in the Fisheries sector. In addition, Tonga has qualified to participate in piloting fisheries projects in Timaru, New Zealand which will provide opportunities to the sector. Furthermore, the mabe pearl industry operating in Ha’apai will contribute to the overall growth of the Ministry’s export proceeds as according to the Ministry of Fisheries, “the mabe pearl industry shows a great potential to prove income and livelihood benefits for the communities of Ha’apai”.

1 - Excluded aquarium products
2 - Both marine and aquarium products


Economics Department
National Reserve Bank of Tonga

Telephone: (676) 24057
Fax: (676) 24201 

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Marine Exports Volumes - May 2017
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