MINISTER of Fisheries and Marine Resources, John Maneniaru in his opening speech at World Tuna Day pointed to the need to “fish smarter” through fishing sustainably and maximising domestication of the industry.
“I understand SolTuna has increased production in the last few years this has been encouraging and rewarding for the development of the Western Province and the rest of Solomon Islands. SolTuna is a national processor and the only one in the country,” said Maneniaru, encouraging SolTuna to continue to provide jobs, education and economic benefits.
Tuna was the future, said Maneniaru, but in order for the industry to be strong, it had to be sustainable.
“The logging industry in the Solomon Islands is slowly phasing out hence the focus of the country, the Pacific region and international organisations is now on the fisheries especially the tuna industry. Therefore, we must be smart in our tuna industry, becoming strong and with a sustainable, environmentally friendly approach.”
Maneniaru thanked and congratulated all the participants in World Tuna Day: “I am very happy to be here to see what you have created, a marvellous day. Let me acknowledge SolTuna, NFD, all the companies in this tuna town, Noro, everyone who has made this day special and I am honoured to be a part of it.”
CEO of National Fisheries Developments Ltd (NFD) Frank Wickham noted that 2017 had been a successful year for SolTuna and NFD with the cannery production now at an average of 115 metric tonnes per day; 600,000 cartons of tuna a year for local consumption.
He said the Minister and Solomon Islands Government had contributed to industry achievements: “I would like to thank the government for progress in representing its interest in the region and in PNA and WCPFC and also for its support to enable SolTuna and NFD to achieve Marine Stewardship Council certification which is symbolic of our joint efforts to be smart custodians of our tuna resources.”
Other achievements to celebrate, commented Wickham, were new exports by SolTuna to the US and UK markets, purchasing of two new vessels by NFD and its expansion of fishing to neighbouring countries, and expansion of processing.
“This gathering today and the colourful parade is a powerful expression of the direct multiplier benefits that tuna is providing this country: income, jobs, food security, business opportunities and the opportunity for personal and organisational growth,” said Wickham, summarising the many benefits of tuna.
Around 2,500 Solomon Islanders are employed by SolTuna and NFD in Noro, and they were also joined by local schools, government services, businesses and families to celebrate World Tuna Day.
World Tuna Day forms an important part in SolTuna and NFD’s support for the preservation of the Western province’s unique cultural traditions.
The companies also support the annual Lagoon Festival usually held towards the end of the year in Munda, the annual fishing competition, the Lagoon Christmas Candlelight programme in Noro and other sporting and social events.
By Dr Anouk Ride