A THIRSTY TUNA

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Discussion between the MFMR BHTPP Project Working Group and Development partners
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-Challenges remain for Bina Harbour project

-Development partners remain committed

Water, among others, is reportedly a bother for the landmark Bina Harbour project.

This was raised during a virtual meeting between the Bina Harbour Tuna Processing Plant Project (BHTPPP), the ministry of Fisheries (MFMR) and development partners recently.

While updates on the Project paint progress, several issues remain as challenges; such as – water source for the plant, sources of required landfill, power supply, telecommunications, potential for bulk fuel storage, environmental and social baseline studies, and technical work to prepare the site for investment presentation.

Project Manager, Peter Cusack, appealed to development partners to support further investigations into these outstanding challenges.

One progress of note, revealed by BHTPPP legal consultant Dr Phil Tagini, is that the long history of issues is now close to resolution and that the Trust Deeds for the key parcels of land is expected to be signed shortly.

A media statement by BHTPPP said the collective response by the development partners to the meeting’s project updates shows “in-principle support for the project and a general commitment to engage in detailed discussions with the Ministry about what roles they might play in supporting its realisation”. 

Development partners include New Zealand, Australia, the United States, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

MFMR, responding to this positive response by development partners, reiterated that it is “determined more than ever to pursue and deliver this national flagship project to the government and people of Solomon Islands”.

Permanent Secretary to MFMR, Dr Christian Ramofafia, who chaired the meet, reiterated the national government’s commitment to the project, saying the Project is one of government’s priority national development projects.

MFMR was mandated by government in 2015 to lead the Project and to be at the forefront in engaging potential investors and development partners.

Mr Ramofafia lauded the partners for their support, particularly long-term financial and technical support from New Zealand’s foreign ministry, the IFC, and recently, Australia’s foreign ministry.

“The project currently has a strong sense of working together with key stakeholders expressing interest in helping to push this vital project forward,” he said.

IFC, which has been a partner since 2015, highlighted its support for the Project’s aim of “establishing a tuna port at Bina Harbour that can host a second Solomon Islands tuna processing plant at Bina, which would provide thousands of direct and indirect jobs and livelihoods and anchor economic development on Malaita”.

“Technical and economic feasibility studies conducted by IFC in 2020 determined that the project may be economically and strategically attractive for a vertically integrated tuna operator interested in forging a long-term, mutually beneficial fishing access arrangement with Solomon Islands. In parallel with that study, IFC also commissioned a port infrastructure scoping study aligned to development of a tuna port.” The BHTPPP media statement said.


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