Marshall Islands Correspondent

MAJURO, Marshall Islands — The Pan Pacific Foods tuna loining plant said it urgently needs five supervisory personnel that it has to get to Majuro for the plant to get into full operation.

PPF General Manager Wanjun “Young” Yang, general manager at Pan Pacific, said April 24 that five of the plant’s key supervisors were out of the country when the COVID border closure went into effect in March 2020 and have been stuck outside since, unable to return to work.

“We need these people to operate at a high level,” he said. Yang listed supervisors for fishmeal processing, plant maintenance, and logistics and the assistant to the general manager as the key personnel he needs to get back to work.

“I understand that the RMI has prioritized local citizens [for repatriation],” Yang said in an interview on April 24. “But we really need these supervisors.

“At least give us two or three at one time, then bring the rest the next month.”

This situation “for the short-term is okay,” he said. “But if it continues in the long-term, we will break.” So far it has been 14 months.

While the fish loining plant could operate a shift with about 300 workers, currently it has only about 60 workers, he said. This reflects, in part, the lack of supervisors to oversee expanded operations, he said.

The last two quarters of 2020, the plant produced no tuna loins for export to offshore canneries. The main reasons contributing to this production collapse was the difficulty of the Pan Pacific purse seiners accessing Majuro because of COVID restrictions for port entry and the lack of supervisors, he said. mbj