National Fisheries Development (NFD) is facing a huge challenge related to fish piracy involving local fishermen illegally collecting fish from the fishing boats in open waters.
NFD’s Managing Director Frank Wickham revealed this in an interview describing the incidents as very concerning.
NFD operation is based in Noro, Western Province.
He claimed there has been increase incidents between with local fishermen who normally board their fishing boats to help themselves with fresh fish.
He added the company is concern that captains and crew are being threatened by some of the fish pirates at the open sea for fresh fish.
The NFD’s manager alleged that these local fishermen move around in open water on motorized canoes using global positioning system (GPS) to locate the movement of company’s fishing boats.
He said areas where their fishing boats normally come across such fish pirates are between; Russel and Isabel, outside of Marasa and Tangarare in west Guadalcanal, between Guadalcanal and Malaita, outside of North Malaita and between Vella la Vella and Choiseul.
Captain of Solomon Emerald in an interview with the Solomon Star confirmed some of the incidents they have encountered.
The captain who declined to be name for fear of intimidation revealed that these local fishermen have no care attitude who usually spy on NFD’s bait-rafters to take advantage of NFD’s catch.
He said there cases where these local fishermen usually board the vessel and just helped themselves with the fresh fish to fill up their boats and eskies.
Most of these purse-seiners boat use fishing nets to catch tuna and it was during the process of pulling up the nets where these fishermen boarded the vessels to help themselves with fresh tuna.
“They just hop in and just collect fish from our nets. Most times we tell them to wait to allow the crew to select tuna for the company but they never listen and just help themselves.
“They should understand we are doing our work. They should wait for us to give them fish, but they don’t care,” the captain said.
The captain added they have also advised these fishermen not to board the fishing vessels for their own safety.
“This is avoid accident while on board because NFD will not be responsible if there is any accident.
“Their safety is important. But if anything happens to them we are not responsible,” he clarified.
The captain further revealed that some of the company’s raft or fishing bait had disappeared from the main fishing spots, alleging some of these local fishermen had sunk them.
“We don’t stop them from fishing next our rafts, but kindly ask them not to damage them,” he said.
He said the cost of replacing these rafts is expensive revealing that worst cases occurred between sea of Vella La vella – Choiseul.
Meanwhile, during a tour by the Western provincial executive to Noro town early last month Mr Wickham had mentioned to the Western Provincial Government delegation of the company’s need of more bait grounds to boost the fishing industry.
NFD supplies fish to Soltuna Ltd cannery in Noro. When Soltuna’s storage is filled, NFD exports portion of the catches to European Union countries.
NFD employed more 300 people, mostly locals.
By MAENI COMFORT