Mending fishing nets is no easy task when the net is from a purse-seiner and may be up to 3,000 metres long and 300–400 metres deep, and weigh 6 tonnes, as in the case of super-seiners.
The design and construction of these nets are complex, as they have to function well in a variety of situations, weather and sea conditions that are pretty challenging. Not only do they have to withstand the complicated mix of forces and tensions during setting and hauling, they also have to cope with the extra stress put on them by being used under potentially different currents from the water surface to the bottom of the net.
Running repairs are done constantly. Many are done on board, but major repairs require a large, flat surface such as a wharf or net yard, and the use of forklifts and other equipment to move the net panels around. Francisco Blaha gives us a better appreciation of the difficulty crews face when repairing nets, at sea and in port.
In Solomon Islands, some women were doing well in jobs with greater responsibilities such as technical supervisors or managers in the SolTuna cannery at Noro, or had built up trading businesses and fleets of fishing vessels.
And, in 2019, three women started work as cadets on the National Fisheries Development fishing fleet. Until then, the agency employed only men on its fishing vessels.
Generally, however, few women work on tuna fishing vessels anywhere. In Solomon Islanders, they make up a large part of the workforce once that catch is landed, dominating work on processing lines in factories, and selling raw or processed fish in local markets.
They said some women were also found in technical, financial and managerial roles, but usually in lower-paid, less powerful positions than their male colleagues. This was the same for tuna that is exported and for tuna sold in local markets for local consumption.
The researchers said that the largest employment opportunities in the tuna fisheries, on fish-processing lines for women, and as general crew of fishing vessels for men, were poorly paid. Two-thirds of the workforce of SolTuna are women, but most of them are in the lowest-paid jobs with the least authority.
The researchers said that the International Finance Corporation had worked with SolTuna since 2015 to improve opportunities for women, as well as their working conditions.
Women’s work in the tuna fisheries was made more difficult because they were expected to fit paid work around their obligations to care for families and homes, with strong social and cultural values shaping women’s and men’s views on where women could legitimately seek work.
Most women who sell tuna in the Gizo and Noro are involved in small, family-run businesses. (This was different to the situation in Indonesia, where the value chain is more complex and offers more opportunities for women to be involved in or run larger businesses.)
If women were going to take up paid work across the tuna industry in greater numbers, jobs needed to be flexible so women could also meet their extensive family responsibilities.
HONIARA, 17 February 2020 – China says it is prepared to strengthen the tuna industry of Solomon Islands and help the tiny Pacific Island nation benefit more from its fisheries resources as it welcomes the Melanesian state as one of its new diplomatic allies.
For 36 years, the Republic of China (ROC, or Taiwan) benefited from the Solomon Islands tuna industry. Last September, the government of Solomon Islands cut the diplomatic relationship between the two countries (in what locals call “the switch”) to form a new allegiance with the People’s Republic of China.
Although the severing of formal relations with Taiwan was said to be unlikely to affect collaboration in the private sector, four months later there is no mention of dialogue between the two former allies.
This has provided an opportunity for the economic giant, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as it steps into a formal role.
China is one of the biggest players in the Pacific Islands tuna industry. Just like Taiwan, China is a member to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).
However, China’s presence in the Solomon Islands tuna trade was previously unheard of, and only Taiwan was said to be benefiting greatly from the tuna stocks in the Solomon Sea.
Now that mainland China has established a formal relationship with Solomon Islands, there is no doubt that the new friendship will help boost the tuna industry for both countries.
The future: tuna trades between China and Solomons
During a trip by Solomon Islands journalists to Beijing last December, the PRC’s Ministry of Commerce said the Chinese Government was ready to assist Solomon Islands with its tuna trades.
“We (China) know that Solomon Islands has rich fisheries resources, and tuna is one of your major products and you are one of the major producers of tuna as the industry accounts for a huge part of your gross domestic product,” a ministry spokesperson said.
“At the moment, Chinese companies have already gathered some experiences in fisheries cooperation with South Pacific countries, so we support and encourage Chinese companies that are competent and interested to participate in the investment cooperation with Solomon Islands.
“Although our two countries are separated by a wide ocean with thousands of miles apart, we believe that as we work together, as we join hands, we can develop more cooperation opportunities and realise common development for China and Solomon Islands.”
China is Solomon Islands’ largest trading partner and also its largest export destination, she added.
“Among the 10 Pacific Island countries that have diplomatic relations with China, Solomon Islands is our second largest trading partner and second largest source of imports,” she said.
“In 2018, the two-way trade between our two countries amounted to US$750 million, which means Solomon Islands, relatively, enjoys a big surplus against China, and the surplus is enlarging in recent years.
“Now already some Chinese companies are cooperating with their counterparts in Solomon Islands, participating in projects such as infrastructure, fisheries, forestry, telecommunication, and also the mining industry,” the spokesperson said.
The PRC’s Ministry of Commerce also stressed that Chinese companies were also investing in the tuna industry of island states such as Fiji, Vanuatu, Kiribati, and Micronesia. Investment is in numerous aspects of the supply chain, and includes tuna breeding, offshore fishing, refrigerating, and processing and retailing.
In 2018, the total online retail sales reached more than 9 trillion Chinese yuan renminbi (RMB), about US$1.3 trillion. The level of consumption in China is rising rapidly, which means Chinese consumers will have larger demand for high-quality products, China’s Ministry of Commerce said.
“This is a very big opportunity for other countries, including Solomon Islands, because you have many competitive products including seafoods, tuna and many other products that will have wider market access to China,” the spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce said.
China also said it would like to expand cooperation with Solomon Islands to include infrastructure, investment, and agriculture so that more projects can be carried out to allow local Solomon Islanders to develop better ability to achieve independent and sustainable development.
According to the spokesperson, there is great complementary between the economies of Solomon Islands and China. The Chinese Government was also well aware that Solomon Islands is a country with rich natural resources, and an urgent need to develop its infrastructure and also many industries, and China was ready to assist.
“China has the relative strength in terms of the size of market, and also capital and technology,” the spokesperson said.
“Now that we have established diplomatic relations, we believe that our mutual understandings and also our exchanges in different areas will be deepened and our mechanisms will be improved so that the potential of economic and trade cooperation between the two countries will be further tightened.”
China has also shown interest in enlarging the two-way trade because Solomon Islands is now an important supplier of timber and aluminium ore to China. The Chinese Government is also encouraging its investors to explore the possibility of importing more seafood from Solomon Islands.
The past: Taiwan benefited more than Solomons from Solomons tuna
In the 36 years before the switch, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said, Taiwan had given Solomon Islands funds to the value of hundreds of millions of US dollars as constituency development funds. But during the same period the country had harvested billions of dollars’ worth of tuna from Solomon Island waters.
Mr Sogavare reflected that, in this regard, Solomon Islands was a net lender to Taiwan.
According to Mr Sogavare, Solomon Islands had permitted its marine resources, especially tuna, to be harvested by Taiwan, besides advocating to the United Nations (UN) for the country’s right to self-determination.
Taiwan was also one of the major markets of canned and processed tuna products for Solomon Islands, as Taiwanese fishing fleets were affiliated members of the Tuna Industry Association of Solomon Islands (TIASI).
At one stage, when Taiwan was issued a “yellow card” by the European Union (EU) in 2015 for not tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, Solomon Islands was instrumental in assisting it work toward fixing the problem. The ruling was lifted after 3 years and 9 months, in part because Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries & Marine Resources (MFMR) worked with Taiwan Fisheries inspector Mr Ian Lin to do inspections of and collect harvest data from Taiwanese vessels that fished in the Solomon Islands waters.
He pointed out that dealing with IUU fishing benefits the local economy, and also helps to ensure that from the fishing vessel to the table customers are getting fish the “green way”.
However, there is no doubt that Taiwanese fishing vessels have contributed a lot to the development of the fisheries sector by capturing more revenues for Solomon Islands.
In June 2019, roughly 55 Taiwanese fishing vessels had purchased licenses and were operating in Solomon Islands waters, according to the Embassy of ROC (Taiwan) in Honiara.
“These vessels come into Honiara and Noro every two months,” he said. This is only part of the picture, as other vessels also use these ports.
“Altogether, there are roughly 330 Taiwanese vessels visiting Solomon Islands every year for loading and unloading in our ports,” he said.
“During their visits they pay not only license fees, but also pay for housing, maintenance fees, livelihood supplies, recruiting local people for assistance, and so forth.
“Each visit probably brings more than SBD$20,000 revenue extra to Solomon Islands, and will benefit our economy and improve the employment rate in the country.”
The switch and Taiwan’s investment
Mr Sogavare said that despite the switch, his government would continue to support Taiwanese investments in the country.
“They are entitled to incentives and the protections guaranteed by our laws. We would encourage more Taiwanese investors to invest in the country, something they have not been actively doing over the 36 years of diplomatic relations,” Mr Sogavare said.
“Their investments have been by political governments and in political interests. The people of Taiwan are welcome to send cultural groups to Solomon Islands for cultural exchanges.
“These exchanges are not affected by the diplomatic switch,” Mr Sogavare once said.
Prime Minister Sogavare said the cost of doing business with China would become cheaper and more efficient.
“According to the recent Central Bank of Solomon Islands report, we have a total trade value of SBD$2 billion, which is by far our largest single trading partner, well above all other trading partners combined.
“Our trade with ROC (Taiwan) is only SBD$142 million, which is a minor fraction compared to China,” he said.
Is tiny Solomon Islands ready for giant China?
Now that China has shown its full interest in helping Solomon Islands bolster its tuna trade and economy, it is up to the Sogavare-led Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement to play its part.
In his statement after the switch to Beijing, Mr Sogavare said Solomon Islands is bound to reap huge benefits never seen before in the history of such a young nation.
However, Mr Sogavare had already been warned over his country’s engagement with China, well before the switch.
Deputy opposition leader Peter Kenilorea Junior has said that the country is not ready for a diplomatic relationship with China.
“The Solomons has many unresolved domestic issues related to land ownership and resource management,” Mr Kenilorea said.
He said the country’s weak laws and regulations leave it vulnerable to exploitation.
“We have already issues in terms of our lax immigration, lax labour laws, lax regulations, land issues, logging issues that have come in and caused a lot of hurt socially as well without much gain.
“And to repeat that again at a much larger scale is something that I just don’t feel we are prepared for.”
Mr Kenilorea told Australian media that the economic advantages of aligning with Beijing were clear, but he feared his country’s institutions were not ready to deal with a “powerful and dominant China”.
“I’m concerned about readiness in terms of our own governance, to really be on terms with China,” Mr Kenilorea said.
“We need to strengthen those governance systems … knowing full well our strategic location in the Pacific, and the strategic resources that we do have.”
During an interview with a top government official at the Office of the Prime Minister & Cabinet, he said, “We must prepare to deal with the Chinese demands and requests. The government must establish mechanisms with some form of regulations and legislative reforms to accommodate its new relationship with China.”
In her personal reflection following the Solomon Islands journalists’ trip to China, senior journalist Dorothy Wickham said she saw China as a country with money to burn and a point to prove.
During the trip, Ms Wickham said she was convinced that political leaders in Solomon Islands were not ready or able to deal effectively with China.
“Solomon Islands’ regulatory and accountability mechanisms are too weak,” Ms Wickham said.
“We have already shown some spirit with our attorney-general rejecting a hasty deal to lease the island of Tulagi, the capital of one of our provinces, to a Chinese company, but I fear how fragile and weak my country is against any large developed nation, let alone China.”
Ms Wickham added that Solomon Islands has always prided itself on setting its own course in international relations, recognising Taiwan for three decades, and in the 1980s, as a newly independent state, standing up to the Americans over an illegal fishing boat fiasco.
“In the end, it will be history that judges our leaders and whether the switch from Taiwan to China was the right move, and if they handle it in the country’s best interest.
“My hope is that in the meantime, the price extracted from our island nation is not too steep or too painful,” she said.
Meanwhile, it is common knowledge that the Chinese government consistently requires Chinese companies to abide by international laws and local laws during their cooperation with their local partners.
It will be interesting to observe what transpires from the new China–Solomon Islands bilateral ties in the three-year transition of 2020–2023. This is especially in terms of the tuna trade and how tuna talks between both countries will be sustainably managed.
HONIARA, 28 November 2019 -– His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, has launched the Solomon Islands Ocean Policy, which aims to step up sustainable management and conservation of the Solomon Islands fisheries industry.
The Prince oversaw the launch event at the Lawson Tama Stadium on Monday, 25 November, during his recent visit to Honiara. The visit focused on climate change and ocean governance.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, attended by more than a thousand people, the Prince of Wales said the natural environment of the country is important for its prosperity and security.
He said it is sad to see the environment of the country, just like many other countries in the world, threatened by climate change, global warming, pollution, unsustainable logging, and overfishing.
you keep your natural heritage, your children and your grandchildren will also
benefit from them,” he said.
added that something urgent needs to be done.
The Prince said that, for that reason, he was pleased to be part of the launching program to witness the important government new ocean policy.
hope the policy will secure the marine ecosystem that surrounds these islands
and to bring wealth, health and wellbeing for the future generation,” he said.
Prior to the launch, His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, also addressed the national parliament of Solomon Islands.
At the parliament, the Prince of Wales praised Solomon Islands for establishing the marine protected areas initiatives to protect fish and food nutrients, and said it is vital for survival of the endangered oceans creatures.
“Marine protected areas are utterly essential mechanisms to increase fisheries catch,” Prince Charles said.
“If the world achieves target of protecting 40% of oceans by 2030, the global fishing catch will actually increase by 57%.
“It seems such an immense potential for the Solomon Islands for taking leading role by protecting [marine areas]. This will help to increase dramatically the productivity of fisheries and major boost to tourism sector,” Prince Charles told parliament.
He added that besides Solomon Islands’ human capital, the precious natural environment and biodiversity of its islands, on land and water, and below the water, represent immense reserves of natural capital.
“As you would appreciate far better than me, your islands are blessed with an astonishing biodiversity of global importance, with your coral reefs being the second most diverse in the world,” the Prince said.
“But such natural capital wealth which, if sustainably managed, should be the bedrock of your economic growth, is at the same time very fragile. Its very fragility is increased immeasurably and alarmingly by the great impact of global warming, climate change and natural capital intrusion.”
In a brief introduction of the Solomon Islands Ocean Policy at the launch event this week, the Director of the Government Communication Unit (GCU), George Herming, said the National Ocean Policy provides a framework that will guide the integrated governance over 1.9 million square kilometres of ocean.
“The policy carried the vision of the Government and people of Solomon Islands for a healthy, resilient, secure and productive ocean that supports sustainable use and development for the benefit of the people and children of Solomon Islands now into the future,” Mr Herming said.
“This is a policy path that we have chosen to join the Malaysia Ocean, recognising its values and opportunities, embraces many uses and to proactively address our ocean threats,” he added.
More significantly, Mr Herming said, through the policy Solomon Islands is joining the global community towards meeting the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
He said the Cabinet under the Solomon Islands Democratic Coalition for Change Government (SIDCCG) and Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela endorsed the policy in November 2018, and Monday’s launch marks the beginning of the journey to roll it out.
is being supported by the current government of Manasseh Sogavare, the
Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA).
When speaking at the launch, the Solomon Islands Prime Minister said the National Ocean Policy provides the framework to safeguard the health and integrity of the ocean to benefit the current generation but, more importantly, would leave a legacy for future generations.
“The policy will also ensure we met our national, regional and international commitments,” Mr Sogavare said.
He added that Solomon Islands is a large ocean state with 98.2% covered by ocean, and only 1.8% covered by land.
“This is our reality and we are ocean people living in harmony with our ocean, our culture, our spirituality, our livelihood and our sustaining is interlinked to our ocean,” he said.
“To protect opportunities and pursue development opportunities from our ocean, we developed a robust and integrated ocean governance policy that entrenches a vision of a healthy, resilient, secure and productive ocean that supports sustainable use and development for the benefit of the people of Solomon Islands now and into the future.”
As part of His Royal Highness’s visit to Solomon Islands, he also took the time to tour the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre (RFSC) at the Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) headquarters in Honiara.
Though the visit was short, the Prince of Wales was briefed about FFA’s work in the area of sustainable fisheries management, and on regional efforts to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) and minimise the impacts of climate change.
“We emphasised the importance of cooperation in the sustainable utilisation of our fisheries resources because of its critical importance to the economic, cultural and social fabric of our Pacific people, and consistent with the long track record and commitment of His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, to sustainable management of the world’s oceans,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.
According to Mr Steve Masika of the FFA RFSC, the Prince was also told of how the work of the FFA is linked to the newly launched Solomon Islands Ocean Policy.
After the RFSC tour, HRH Prince Charles also met FFA staff, engaging with them on aspects of FFA’s work.
“It was a great honour for our staff to meet the Prince of Wales and we were pleased to have an opportunity to present him with a gift as a token of our appreciation,” Dr Tupou-Roosen said in a statement.
Solomon Islands’ incoming representative to the United Nations will take to New York many of the causes he fought for when he headed the Parties to the Nauru Agreement.
Transform Aqorau was chief executive of the PNA for many years, and turned that body into a force that saw Pacific island nations start to earn substantial amounts of money from their tuna fishing resources.
He is now to become Solomon Islands’ permanent representative at the UN, and told Don Wiseman that it’s not his first diplomatic role, having worked for Foreign Affairs many years ago.
(Note: You can listen to a 6-minute interview with Mr Aqorau by clicking on the Radio New Zealand link above.)
Economic benefits can come in different forms: royalty returns from selling fishing rights to foreign nations, and providing fish for the domestic market at a time when food security is an issue.
The third possibility is jobs in the fishing industry. UN figures show unemployment rates in the Pacific can run as high as 60% in the worst affected countries, with women and youth being the hardest hit.
Dr Tu’ikolongahau Halafihi, Chief Executive Officer at Tonga’s Ministry of Fisheries, outlined a new approach his country is taking, to increase employment by encouraging local operators into longline fishing.
“We need to manage and develop the local industry, and shift our reliance away from foreign vessels,” he said. “Currently we have about 70 locals employed in fisheries. A new approach could boost the employment of marine engineers, crew, fishermen, and observers.”
“There will also be new opportunities for women, in marketing and administration.”
Dr Halafihi (also known as Hau) said that Tonga currently has only one local longline operator and seven foreign vessels, and their new plans provide for 20 licenses, 10 each for foreign vessels and locals.
Employment is the major benefit, but one side effect of a stronger domestic fishing fleet will be to increase compliance and reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. This is a significant because Tonga does not have the capacity to enforce laws with foreign fleets.
Hau mapped out the steps Tonga will take: controlling of licences, incorporating the new measures in law, increasing the number of local operators using bareboat charters, seeking out donors to provide vessels, and training.
The Solomon Islands are planning a similar approach. Ferral Lasi, Undersecretary Technical at the Ministry of Fisheries & Marine Resources, says the main idea is not to issue licenses to foreign vessels for fishing or export.
“We want to cut foreign longlining. At the moment, we have 91 longliner foreign vessels licensed but no domestic operators,” he says. “We hope to sign an MOU this year to start the 5-year process of changing the face of our fishing industry.”
He expects the benefits will be considerable.
“Local owners will make money, stimulating business. Employment will be boosted on vessels and in processing centres. We are looking at bringing $200-300 million into the economy of the Solomon Islands,” he says.
Ferral puts the current value of longlining at about $900 million, with license fees amounting to $20-40 million.
“It will all be linked to a national fisheries hub. For some fish (like bigeye) the value is higher if we manage the process of export ourselves, so we plan to handle, process, and export fish like this. There will be many people employed in the hub,” he says.
He says training programs are part of the plan, and also jobs for women.
“Our cannery employs a lot of women, and this will happen in the Hub. We are about to finalise a policy about gender and it will relate to all our activities,” he says.
This will be a total change for the Solomon Islands and will need a lot of work involving willing partners.
“We need to develop the concept, and a plan. The whole project will be handled by Solomon Islanders and phased in over a transition period. It involves Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Pacific Community (SPC) and donor partners (including Conservation International). The memorandum of understanding (MOU) will spell out who will do what,” Ferral says.
Changes are also coming to the Cook Islands, as they move swiftly to adopt a new e-reporting system developed by SPC.
Marino Wichman, Data Manager at the Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR), has been tasked with implementing a new electronic reporting system to manage the longline quota management system approved in 2016-17.
“The Ministry works closely with SPC and FFA to ensure our information management systems are at optimal operational standards for both our data technicians and industry operators. E-reporting is of particular interest, as the Ministry has now introduced longline quota for albacore and bigeye tuna.
“It can be quite tricky on the reporting side of things,” he says. “The old system of recording catches and entering fish data into the data bases was cumbersome. Paper sheets got lost, some data had to be re-entered up to seven different times, and delays meant accurate up-to-date information was difficult.”
Now SPC has made available a new app called Onboard.
Andrew Hunt, of SPC’s Oceanic Fisheries Programme, says Onboard helps captains of longline boats to complete their log sheets.
“Instead of filling out a paper-based form, captains submit the information electronically. Onboard has features like GPS and the camera to improve data quality, and captains can submit new reports while they are still at sea, providing daily updates of their data,” he says.
“It’s on an Android Tablet, and loaded up and given to captains of commercial vessels. Each day they’ll log their fishing activity into the tablet, recording what kind of hooks they’re using, and how many, and the types and weights of fish they catch.”
“And then when they’re finished they submit the data straight into the database.”
MMR has been trialling the system for its Cook Islands flagged vessels operating out of America Samoa and Rarotonga.
Mr Wichman says, “We found that captains liked the concept and took on board the onus of keeping records in a safe place to keep them updated, but they don’t like tablets, and want to use laptops.”
After discussion with MMR earlier in the year, SPC has now provided a PC version of Onboard for use on shipboard laptops and computers, which will enable the app to tie into existing satellite data feeds onboard vessels.
MMR Director Offshore Tim Costelloe says: “With the large size of our EEZ and the need to tie e-reporting verifications into weekly and daily reporting for our Quota Management System, we found that an app using a handheld device did not fit the needs and requirements of our legal framework. This latest PC version greatly improves the standard of delivery and will benefit all stakeholders with more timely reporting and better monitoring of catches.”
The Cook Islands licenses 54 longline vessels, of which 26 are Cook Islands flagged. The remainder of the longline fleet are charter vessels flagged to China under access agreements with the Cook Islands Government. MMR is aiming to have 100 per cent e-reporting coverage on all licenced longliners by the end of 2019.
“We still have some way to go, as it is new technology and we need to work out the kinks, but the end result will include up to date info sharing, better monitoring, and greater control of catch limits,” Mr Costelloe says.
The Forum Fisheries Agency says the Pacific is facing big challenges as it embraces digital technology.
A systems analyst for the agency said that in the fisheries sector, work to digitise information was ongoing and labour intensive.
Ano Tisam said many organisations and governments in the region still used pen and paper.
He said to move ahead, information needed to be accessible in a digital format and properly stored and archived.
“We used technology to help Pacific governments to move away from what they are doing in terms of paper, and transitioning them over to digital technologies so that they can improve the way that they do things to make things more efficient and more effective.”
Ano Tisam was visiting New Zealand from Solomon Islands as a guest speaker at last week’s Pacific Tech Summit in Auckland.
Peter Cusack, Regional Coordinator – Pacific Islands Regional Oceanscape Program
Honiara, Solomon Islands 13-15 February 2018. Lamine Camara, Director of Fisheries for Mauritania, was the first representative from Mauritania to visit the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) in Honiara, Solomon Islands when he arrived in February this year. Joining him on the occasion were an additional 20 international delegates who all gathered at the FFA premises to participate in a Pacific – Global Zone-based Tuna Fisheries Management Exchange. The Exchange was hosted by FFA to provide an opportunity for representatives of developing coastal States from around the globe with an interest in tuna fisheries to visit the Pacific and learn first-hand of the successes and challenges in tuna fisheries management encountered in the Pacific Ocean.
Over the course of the three-day event, participants examined and discussed the “Pacific model” for fisheries cooperation. There was a focus on how zone-based management arrangements have been introduced in the FFA region and used to gain control of the fishery by coastal states, thereby reaping substantially increased benefits. FFA staff and resource people from the Office of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) and the Pacific Community described the long history of cooperation, the key outputs (programs and platforms for cooperation) and the main outcomes (social, economic and environmental benefits) that have been achieved in the FFA region.
A total of twenty-one delegates participated in the exchange, including representatives from national and regional fisheries agencies and fisheries programs in Senegal, Mauritania, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Sri Lanka, St Kitts and Nevis, Indonesia, Maldives, Seychelles, Tanzania, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, as well as representatives from the World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International.
The Exchange was part of FFA’s ongoing program that seeks mutual benefits from greater collaboration with developing coastal States around the world. Mutual benefits that accrued from the Exchange and are expected to expand in the future included:
for other developing coastal States – a working example of cooperation in fisheries management, development and enforcement and the ability to leverage lessons learned through trial and error here;
for FFA members – a greater appreciation around the globe of the zone-based cooperative model employed by FFA. This is growing more important as oceans and fisheries related issues gain more prominence on the global agenda. This greater understanding benefits FFA members because it should lead to better support for FFA positions and approaches from other coastal States around the world; and
for all parties – gaining different perspectives about how to deal with similar issues in the management of highly migratory fish stocks.
It was noted that many of the ‘lessons learned’ from the Exchange does not only apply to tuna fisheries, but also to other cross boundary demersal stocks, and for the introduction and use of monitoring, control and surveillance technologies.
In welcoming the participants and opening the Exchange FFA Director- General, Mr James Movick provided an overview of regional tuna fisheries management in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) and described the concept of “Zone-based Management” and how the Pacific small Island developing states (SIDS) have implemented it.
In his remarks, Mr Movick said that the region is “more strongly asserting our rights in what used to be a completely distant-water flag-state fishery. Pacific nations have given themselves a much bigger bite of revenues from the global tuna sandwich. We want to share this knowledge to assess what lessons are transferable to other developing regions – and learn from the unique experiences that others bring to our table.”
He also said that the importance of tuna to Pacific SIDS is illustrated by fisheries revenues making up more than 40% of public revenue in five countries, providing 25,000 jobs in the region and contributing to food security and development opportunities. At the global scale the 2016 WCPO tuna catch of 2.6 million tonnes represented around 60% of the global tuna catch and was worth $5.2 billion. In turn, around 60% of this WCPO catch is from FFA waters.
Tuna provide substantial economic opportunities for FFA members, including the contribution to DP through access fees, domestic fleet development, onshore processing jobs and export income, but today only 30% of fish caught in members’ exclusive economic zones is being taken by local fleets and only 10% is landed for processing.
Mr Ludwig Kumoru, CEO of the PNA shared how the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) has been a “game-changer in the sustainable management of tuna resources.” He continued saying, “The VDS put a cap on the number of days that fishing vessels can operate in our waters, and steadily ramped up the cost of access so that the PNA members receive a fairer share of revenues. Before the VDS came into being there was no proper valuation placed on the fishery and we were at the mercy of foreign interests. That has all changed.”
The OPP is one of the four Projects of the GEF-funded Common Oceans ABNJ Program that, under the World Bank lead, is supporting public and private sector investment in better managed fisheries targeting migratory stocks that straddle developing countries’ coastal jurisdictions and areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ).
For more information about the Pacific-Global Zone-based Tuna Fisheries Management Knowledge Exchange, please contact:
Peter Cusack, Regional Coordinator – Pacific Islands Regional Oceanscape Program | firstname.lastname@example.org
THE Solomon Islands government has earned a record $399 million Solomon Island Dollar (SBD) from its tuna resources in 2017, the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) in Honiara has revealed. This is around $51 million US dollars.
The fishing industry now offers hope for the country, behind the logging industry, which earns more but is slowly decreasing in its revenue.
Ministry’s Under-Secretary (Technical) Ferral Lasi said offshore fisheries remain the largest income-generating sector and this is from tuna alone, which accounts for almost 90 per cent of the revenues.
He said it’s a trend he believes could take the lead in a country that has heavily relied on logging for the last two decades.
“Tuna is soon to take up the lead, as it continues to show a massive increase in revenue compared to the past.
“This positive trend shows the improvement in management of the country’s ocean resources and, most importantly, the collective efforts from neighbouring countries in the region to pursue a common objective to manage tuna,” Mr Lasi said.
He added that the species of tuna caught in the Solomon waters worth millions of dollars are albacore, yellowfin, bigeye and skipjack – the four main species of interest in the world market.
“The wealth of any island nation in the Pacific lies in the massive area of waters surrounding their archipelagos, and that is measured 200 nautical miles from the shoreline, known as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).”
Like other island countries, the ocean bounded under the sovereignty of Solomon Islands is many times larger than the land mass of the country itself, hence the responsibility to care and protect the EEZ is a challenge.
Mr Lasi’s revelation that $339 million collected from revenues in fisheries by the government is a well-deserved acknowledgement for the hardworking staff in the MFMR.
He dubbed logging in the country as a ‘sunset industry’.
“The fishing industry remains the most promising industry that keeps the government optimistic for the future.”
He said once other marine species are managed well to benefit the local people and enable them to participate in commercial activities, more revenue will pour into the country without heavy reliance on tuna.
He said an example of this is bech-de-mer (sea cucumber), which is a valuable marine species but not abundant like tuna.
Mr Lasi stressed that once the right policies are put in place by the government to help local people, the management and commercialization of sea cucumber will definitely boost the economy and enrich the indigenous people.
“There are many marine resources inside our coastal waters and the ocean that should be enough to sustain our livelihood and support our government to commit in its service delivery.”
Mr Lasi further stated that more work is being carried out by MFMR to gauge the maximum benefit Solomon Islands can acquire from its ocean resources, though sustainable management.
There may be several more millions generated from other marine products.
But the question is, how much of that money actually ends up in the hands of Solomon Islanders?
This is a hard question to answer.
But it’s a question worth answering if Solomon Islanders are to quantify the benefits they are deriving from their own marine resources.
Former chief executive officer of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) and the country’s very own fisheries law expert, Dr Transform Aqorau, once said that the Solomon Islands should be earning more from its tuna than what it is earning now.
But for the nation to earn maximum benefits from its marine resources, resource owners must be considered and included in all facets of policy and decision-making.
Right now, most of the big players in the industry are outsiders. Solomon Islanders are still missing out.
Whilst the fisheries industry holds much hope for the country, authorities need to ensure resource owners get maximum benefit from their resources.