Now is the time for Pacific Island Nations to work together to end predatory behavior by companies that take unfair advantage in the fisheries sector, so that value can be added to exports.
This was the message from Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, speaking at the Pacific Islands Forum Private Sector Dialogue on Ocean Commerce today.
PM O’Neill said the political strength of Pacific Island Nations to correct inappropriate practices is often underestimated.
“In the Pacific we are small in population, but we can be very influential when we work together in the global community,” PM O’Neill said.
“The ocean territory our countries occupy is vast, and has an abundance of marine resources.
“Too often the great wealth that belongs to the people of the Pacific has been exploited and taken to foreign shores.
“For many years in Papua New Guinea we had been licensing foreign vessels to fish in our waters.
“This delivered minimal benefit for our economy and did not create any jobs for our people, while our fish stocks were seriously damaged.
“Manufacturers from other countries had also taken advantage of inefficiencies in the sector and only ever processed the bare minimum.”
The Prime Minister said the Government reached a point where enough was enough, and is now making deliberate interventions where exploitation is taking place.
“We are now changing the dynamics of the fisheries sector in our country so that we do not let foreign companies take away the wealth and simply leave breadcrumbs behind.
“We are getting behind our fisheries sector to stimulate growth in onshore fish processing.
“This proactive approach is creating thousands of jobs, increasing revenue and providing jobs for young fishermen.
“We are pursuing this agenda vigorously and we will work through the Forum and with our parents to stimulate reform around the Pacific.
“All Pacific Nations have the right to protect their marine resources and to draw value from these resources for their people and their economies.
“When we review licensing arrangements that we have in our countries, and the arrangements we have for processing, we can work together in the Pacific to add value together.
“Only by working together can we protect revenue in our countries, create jobs and make sure revenue goes to the right people.”