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The Solomon Islands has safeguarded its $500 million a year tuna export industry by taking strong measures to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in its waters.
In good news for the industry earlier this year (March, 2017), the European Commission lifted its cautionary ‘yellow card’, which had been in place since December 2014.
At that time, the EC determined that the Solomon Islands’ Government was not doing enough to combat IUU fishing in Solomon Islands’ waters.
Solomon Islands fisheries exports to the European Union are worth some SBD$500m annually, and an escalation to red card status would have been a disaster for the industry.
The lifting of the yellow card status is an indication that strong enforcement for handling, processing and food safety is now in place.
The shift from yellow to green card status is recognition of collaborative efforts on the part of fisheries stakeholders, according to Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency Director General James Movick.
“The announcement ends more than two years of hard work led by the Solomon Islands government, other ministries working with the fisheries sector, and the industry,” he said. “We could not be more pleased that the tireless work to address these concerns and challenges have met with success.”
The Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association (PITIA) is also delighted with the news.
“This is excellent news for the fishing industry, for fishermen and for companies like Soltuna, which processes tuna here in the Solomon Islands for international markets,” said PITIA’s executive officer Johan Maefiti.
“On behalf of all our members, we would like to congratulate everyone who worked hard to make this happen. We have implemented strong mitigation measures against IUU fishing, and assured our access to critical European Union markets going forward.”– Press Release –Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association, PITIA