Unloading of long line vessel fish catch begins
The first consignment of tuna catch from all long line fishing vessels operating in local waters were offloaded over the weekend bound for Japan as part of government’s effort to gain from its resources.
The transfer of the the tuna catch was successfully conducted at Leroy wharf, Lunga point, East Honiara and is expected to boost country’s export in tuna catch.
Its the first time for any licensed long line fishing vessels namely Global Fisheries Limited from Taiwan and SolFish Company to offload their catch in the nation’s capital, Honiara.
The catch have been unloaded and then loaded again into freezer containers bound for Japanese markets.
Its a step taken by the Democratic Coalition for Change Government (DCCG) to reform its respective fisheries policies ensuring the creation of a conductive investment environment, one that is competitive regionally.
Under the government’s policy, a minimum offloading of catch from all long line licensed vessels to fish in our waters shall be 80% of the boat’s respective catch which is just for this year.
By 2017, there will be 100% offloading of all tuna catch in our waters.
In doing so, the DCC Government is purposely striving to create more employment opportunities for Solomon Islanders residing in Honiara, it was revealed.
It will also bring more economical impacts for subsidiary related businesses in Honiara such as Solomon Islands Ports Authorities (SIPA), hotels, airlines, restaurants, and domestic market.
Speaking on behalf of the government during the first unloading of tuna catch on Saturday at SolFish’s wharf at Lunga Point, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr Christain Ramofafia congratulated Global Fisheries and SolFish Ltd and for committing themselves into partnership to work together to fulfill this policy.
“These two companies are contributing meaningfully to government policies, creating job opportunities for Solomon Islanders.”
He also highlighted that regulations are currently being drafted to ensure boats operating by local companies employ increasing number of local crews, Dr Ramofafia said.
He also highlighted the fact that investing in Solomon Islands is not easy, given the current investment environment.
“The government will also be reviewing respective legislations pertaining to investment to ensure investors are supported to grow their investment in a competitive conducive environment for the better returns.
“A Bill on free economic zone is currently been drafted and is hope to be laid before the parliament in the first half of 2016.”
Dr Ramofafia however also highlighted the government’s stance on the sustainability of the fish stocks.
“The progressive reduction of licenses for the long line fisheries over the last three years reflects the government’s strong conviction with regards to stock sustainability.
“I understand that this move by the Ministry of Fisheries was difficult for the companies but this is important to ensure that the stocks are sustainable and the opportunity for your operations to be sustained into the future exists.”
He said that the Ministry of Fisheries will continue to work with all industry partners to ensure that the policies and resulting regulations are fair, giving the balance between stock and business sustainability.
“The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources will continue to work with the local tuna industry to ensure the tuna resources of the country are exploited in a manner that brings real benefits to the country.”
The Fisheries PS added, by growing the local tuna industry, the government is mindful also of its obligations to ensure companies operate within the bounds of its fisheries law.
‘In this regard, we are strengthening our compliance systems to address illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
“One new measure the Ministry of Fisheries implements is the electronic reporting by all long liners operating in our waters.
“E-reporting will ensure vessel and catch information are transmitted to the ministry of fisheries in real time for management decisions.
“Long line e-reporting system will be the first in the region for the long line fisheries,” Dr Ramofafia explained.
Also speaking at the occasion was Taiwan’s (ROC) Ambassador to Solomon Islands H.E Victor Yu.
He said, the Embassy of the Republic of China (ROC) has always strive to encourage the Taiwan companies to invest or establish business operations in Honiara and its efforts are bearing fruit now.
“Global Fishery Ltd is a Taiwanese fishing company that operates long liners in this area has decided to use Honiara as their base of operation to unload and process their catches at Leroy wharf.”
The ROC Ambassador highlighted that such new business operations will not help Solomon Islands Government to garner more revenues and create more jobs, but also lay a solid foundation for the further expansion of business activities at the Lunga area.
Ambassador Yu hope that input by the Global Fisheries Ltd will lead to more investment and job opportunities for people.
Global Fisheries Ltd is expecting at least 80 Long Liners to call at the Solfish Jetty this year.
Global Fisheries CEO Jack Tien-I Chi revealed that offloading their catch in Honiara will also solve the congestion currently faced at Noro.
“Unloading tuna catches in Honiara is decentralizing the knock-on benefits to many people.
Tien-I Chen however highlighted the strict conditions which they have to meet during offloading of their catches.
“We must be careful with the unloading process and storage into containers.
“Japanese markets especially leading restaurants in their struggle to satisfy customer choice of Sashimi will then depend on the state and hygiene of the imported fish catch.
“So our greatest challenge is to keep the catch and storage temperatures under strict conditions,” Tien- I Chin explained.
The ceremony was attended by ROC officers, Global and SolFish management, Solomon Islands Government reps, Tuna Association of Solomon Islands (TIASI) rep, Guadalcanal Premier Hon. Battholomew Vavanga and local media reps.
By TEDDY KAFO