Speeches: Solomon's Fisheries Minister welcomes Pacific Regional Oceanscape funds
...PROP represents a significant investment of scarce funds for Solomon Islands and, for my part, I will be charging the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources with seizing this great opportunity to ensure that we do better manage and develop our fisheries resources to the sustainable benefit of our nation and people.
Full statement by Hon. Minister John Maneniaru, Fisheries and Marine Resources on the signing of the Pacific Regional Oceanscape Program for Solomon Islands
Thursday 29 January, 2015, Heritage Park Hotel- SOLOMON ISLANDS
As a new Minister in a new Government which faces many challenges in building our economy and improving the lives of our people it is my great pleasure to witness the signing today of the Pacific Regional Oceanscape Program, or PROP.
Over 90 percent of our nation is ocean and our Exclusive Economic Zone of more than 1.3 million square kilometers is blessed with tremendous natural resources.
Our commercial tuna fishery makes a great contribution to national revenue and provides livelihoods and economic opportunity through National Fisheries Developments’ tuna fishing operations and SolTuna’s tuna processing at Noro, as well as smaller operations elsewhere.
The coastal fisheries throughout our islands provide food and livelihoods for very many thousands more of our people. As the fact sheet on PROP notes, Solomon Islanders like to eat fish and our consumption is roughly twice the global average.
Government is responsible for managing the use of our tuna, both to safeguard the resource and to ensure that we gain the best possible national benefit from it for this generation and generations to come.
Government must also assist communities to better manage our coastal resources.
If the value of these oceanic and coastal fisheries resources is to be maintained and sustainably increased to keep pace with our rapid population growth and growing food demand, additional investments in their management are required.
I therefore warmly welcome this new partnership between the World Bank and Solomon Islands, as well as several of our Pacific island neighbors, and the Forum Fisheries Agency, that will work to strengthen the shared management of our oceanic and coastal fisheries, and the habitats that sustain them. I also acknowledge the valued contribution to this program provided by the Global Environment Facility.
PROP will support the efforts of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources of the Solomon Islands to:
•obtain real-time information on fishing activity and catch through expanded observer and information management systems;
•strengthen our ability to document catches, control product quality and ensure ongoing access foreign markets,
•conduct the levels of surveillance needed to enforce compliance with fisheries access regulations, and
•help our communities’ better use and sustain coastal resources.
The benefits of these investments in strengthened fisheries management are expected to be significant:
•Annual public revenues from the purse seine tuna fishery are projected to increase to at least US$ 40 million annually by 2020 as management is further strengthened.
•Likewise, the long-line fishery has great potential to provide increased national benefit through better management.
•For both fisheries, this investment in better resource management will increase our comparative advantage in the global marketplace. A well-managed tuna resource is more likely to attract new local investment, as global tuna processors look to secure reliable supply.
•This investment will also help safeguard our access to the European market for our present production of tuna because we will be able to better certify that the catch was taken legally.
•I’m aware that three of the eight other countries participating in the regional purse seine tuna management scheme have committed to similar investments through the PROP, and other countries are expected to follow in the next one to two years.
•PROP will thus ensure that there will be a regional effort to improve monitoring and management of their tuna fisheries that will benefit us all.
•And, investment in coastal fisheries is needed due to their importance to national food security as our population is expected to almost double over the next two decades.
I understand that PROP represents a re-engagement in the Pacific Islands fisheries sector by the World Bank. This is welcome, as we appreciate the global knowledge and the convening power that the Bank can bring to the sector.
I also welcome the fact that PROP has been designed to complement and amplify initiatives already under way within the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources supported by New Zealand through the Mekem Strong Solomon Island Fisheries program. I believe that when our development partners collaborate in this way great things can be achieved.
Let me conclude by thanking all involved in bringing the Solomon Islands component of PROP to this stage, including the staff of my Ministry, the staff of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, staff of the Forum Fisheries Agency, and World Bank staff both here and in Washington.
I am particularly conscious that PROP represents a significant investment of scarce funds for Solomon Islands and, for my part, I will be charging the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources with seizing this great opportunity to ensure that we do better manage and develop our fisheries resources to the sustainable benefit of our nation and people.