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HONIARA – The Russell Islands Fisheries Association (RIFA) in the Central Islands Province of Solomon Islands is officially launched, following the signing of its mandate at Louna village on 19 July.
This agreement formally institutes the association, which is made up of the people of nine fishing communities who will manage the islands’ fisheries to develop and maintain sustainable use for the benefit of current and future generations.
An interim executive committee was appointed at the signing ceremony at Louna. It will oversee the set-up of the association to meet legal requirements.
By signing the mandate, RIFA members have formalised a partnership with the Savo–Russell constituency, the Central Islands Provincial (CIP) Government, and the Russell Islands Investment Forum (RIIF).
Constituency MP Dickson Mua, CIP Premier Stanley Manetiva, and nine representatives of RIFA signed the mandate documents. The signing was witnessed by senior national and provincial government officials.
During the signing ceremony, MP Dickson Mua congratulated the communities for their hard work in establishing RIFA. He noted that they had moved another step ahead in advancing their communal interests in developing their fisheries resources.
“Moving together like what we have witnessed now is very encouraging, especially as we prepare ourselves to respond to the tough times ahead for our country,” Mr Mua said.
Mr Manetiva assured the association and its members that the provincial government was committed to supporting RIFA to achieve its ambitions.
“I wish to congratulate you for your efforts by reaching this far and be assured that your provincial government under my leadership is committed to support your noble aspirations to develop and manage our fisheries resources,” Mr Manetiva said.
Russell Islands comprises two main islands and several islets. It lies about 50 km north-west of the island of Guadalcanal. It has hundreds of untouched inshore fishing grounds that are rich in resources, and RIFA is aiming to develop and manage these for its current and future generations.
The formal establishment of RIFA follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Savo–Russell Constituency, RIIF, and the Central Islands Provincial Government on 20 April 2020.
The nine fishing communities agreed in a meeting in May to establish individual village committees to assist distinct communities to organise and create a network of fishers in the islands.
The first tasks of the interim executive are to develop a Russell Islands fisheries management and development program, as well as guiding principles and a code of conduct for the fisheries network. The Central Islands Provincial Government Fisheries Division will assist the interim executive to develop and register a constitution and financial processes.
The RIPEL Cabinet Subcommittee of the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is providing administrative support and advice as RIFA is set up.