5 billion won tuna fund hoping for plenty more fish

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5 billion won tuna fund hoping for plenty more fish

Korea is scaling up its tuna game, with the country launching its very first tuna investment fund.

The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said Wednesday that BNK Financial Group and tuna farm operator Nampyeong Bluefin Tuna Farming Association Corporation will work together to create the 5-billion-won ($4.43 million) investment fund to develop the tuna farm operation in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang.

The new fund will get 4 billion won in investment from six affiliates under Busan-based BNK Financial Group and a further 1 billion won from Nampyeong over three years, starting from this month.

The Fisheries Ministry said the investment will be used to cover operation costs for the farm, such as purchases of juvenile tuna weighing less than 10 kilograms (22 pounds) and feed during the three-year period.

The investment fund has a finalized rate of return of 3.4 percent through the sale of the 50-kilogram tuna to be raised on the farm.

“There is great significance that a new business model of a ‘tuna fund’ was created through the gathering between the fish farming industry and the financial industry,” said the Fisheries Minister Kim Young-choon at the launch event for the investment fund on Wednesday.

“Through this opportunity, I hope more funds based on other farmed fishes such as salmon are created,” he added.

The latest announcement follows the Fisheries Ministry’s efforts to develop the local tuna industry as farmed tuna production has rapidly grown in size globally in recent years.

While 80,000 tons of tuna were caught and only 10,000 tons were farmed in 2005, 41,000 tons were caught and 37,000 tons farmed in 2015, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Japan produces 15,000 tons of tuna annually from around 300 farms.

Korea has largely struggled to catch on to the global trend as the operation requires heavy investment and a development period of at least two years for the tuna to grow. To overcome the obstacles, the government has promoted cooperation between the financial industry and the tuna farming industry since June last year.

The country is currently home to three tuna farms, located in Tongyeong and Seogwipo, Jeju.


BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]

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