Republished from Undercurrent News, 3 May 2018

The Sino-Van Fish Processing Plant, in Vanuatu’s capital city of Port Vila, has been shut down for 14 years because of a prior lack of facilities to accommodate fishing boats. But when it reopens later this year, Matai Seramiah, the country’s fisheries minister, hopes local fishermen will return and make use of it, Radio New Zealand reports.

The plant, built by a Chinese firm, has been the subject of major protest by locals who fear that it’s re-opening will bring with it issues of water pollution, shark infestation and a rise in crime. Many feel that the larger northern island of Espiritu Santo would have made a better fit for the operation, according to the article.

Fishing is a major part of the Pacific island nation’s economy, with roughly 77% of all households involved in the industry.

Speaking on behalf of Seramaiah at a World Tuna Day event, Benjamin Shing, the ministry’s acting director general, said the country misses out on a lot of the benefit from its lucrative tuna industry, with a great deal of its fish landings being shipped abroad for processing.

Yellowfin tuna under the sea

Yellowfin tuna. Photo: WWF