MEMBER of Parliament for North Malaita Jimmy Lusibaea has challenged Parliament as to whose interest is Solomon Islands pushing to pass the Fisheries Management Bill 2015.
Mr Lusibaea’s call came amidst reports that the European Union has pressured the Fisheries Ministry for Parliament to pass the Fisheries Management Bill 2015 or risk losing its access to European Union fisheries markets.
Mr Lusibaea, a one-time former Minister for Fisheries said it is a grave concern how this Bill has been quickly pushed for Parliament to pass.
He said, if it is true that this Bill has to be passed due to external pressures associated with a yellow card being flagged on our fish exports by the European Union; then our sovereignty as a nation comes into question.
“European Union needs to be lenient with Solomon Islands rather than threatening us when they know very well that we are categorized as one of the Least Developing Countries (LDC). EU is fully aware that this country lacks the necessary finance to meet their obligation in a short term. Solomon Islands as a country finds it hard to meet SPS standards, recording of illegal fishing, patrolling our own waters, even our 200 mile Economic Exclusive Zone [EEZ] are patrolled by foreign navies seconded to the Forum Fisheries Agency [FFA],” Mr Lusibaea said.
The North Malaita MP also challenged Members of Parliament that Parliament is not a House to legislate for the convenience of foreign interests.
“The Parliament is not a house to legislate for the convenience of foreign interests. I am elected to this house by my good people of North Malaita Constituency and not by the people of Spain, we the 10th parliament should take time and scrutinize this Bill properly in the best interest of our people and our nation and not for outside influence. This is where the rubber hits the road this supposed to be the “Peoples Bill” as the people of this nation’s livelihood and survival depends on their fisheries and marine ecosystem,” he said.
Honorable Lusibaea said the challenges that we face as a sovereign nation is not in securing better satellite surveillances systems in the sky hovering over our fishing waters alone.
He adds that the real difficulty is to have “boots on the ground”.
“Yes, we must have maritime personnel that have capability to enforce this Bill. Experts in this sector estimate that up to US$23.5 Billion worth of fish enters the world market each year from Illegal fishing which averages to approximately 1 in 5 fish caught in the wild. I am certain that a percentage of that data comes from our fishing waters,” the North Malaita MP said.
“This is why the administration of this Bill should begin by addressing our efforts in building our own management capacity to effectively protect and manage our own 200 Mile EEZ.”
Meanwhile, Mr Lusibaea said its time Solomon Islands take immediate steps in looking elsewhere for alternative markets for her fishery Products.
He said Solomon Islands must invest heavily in the administration of her Fisheries and Marine resources, specifically in the protection of our 200 Mile EEZ plus more budgetary support from annual budgets to the Fisheries Management Development Fund.
“Investment should assist our community fisheries and marine programs with immediate revisiting of the methods and how donor funded conservation have been implemented nationally,” he said.