The Director of Fisheries, Mr Edward Honiwala and Deputy Director for Inshore Fisheries Division Ms Ivory Akao attended the 14th Pacific Community (SPC) Heads of Fisheries Meeting in Noumea, New Caledonia from 14 -17th June 2022 together with other Senior Officials from 23 Pacific Island countries and Territories.
Director of Fisheries, Mr Honiwala said the meeting is important for Solomon Islands as the country relies heavily on fisheries. He said, “Oceanic and coastal fisheries are important to our economy as well as for food security and livelihoods of our people”.
Key discussions during the meeting was based on the Secretariat’s 2021 annual report, the scientific research on key tuna stocks, livelihood options for coastal fisheries, the regional priorities in aquaculture, the impacts of climate change on tuna fisheries and the new fisheries strategic direction for 2022-2027.
For the Oceanic component: – The report highlighted that all 4 targeted tuna species (Skipjack, Yellowfin, Big eye, and Albacore) in the region are in healthy conditions. Albacore species are found to be in healthy status however, the current level of fishing is higher therefore does not sit well with the interim Target Reference point set.
Mr Honiwala re-emphasized the importance of South Pacific Albacore tuna for Solomon Islands during the meeting and reassured our commitments towards the sustainability of the key tuna species. For Solomon Islands, the South Pacific Albacore is managed under the PNA longline vessel days scheme (VDS).
For the Inshore fisheries component: – Issues discussed include declining in fish stocks for coastal fisheries, challenges in management and increasing population in coastal communities contributes to growing pressures on coastal resources.
Aquaculture sector in the regions was also discussed based on an assessment report presented at the meeting. The report highlighted that Aquaculture sector is under developed and there are potentials in Aquaculture sector in the region.
Director Honiwala, thanked SPC for recognising the importance of the Aquaculture sector in the region and for prioritising the Regional Aquaculture Assessments.
Pacific Aquaculture sector has potential in socio-economic value and can contribute to our economies. Aquaculture developments may vary within the Pacific countries, but agreed with the findings of the report.
Mr Honiwala highlighted that for Solomon Islands, Aquaculture development is a high priority for the Government.
“Currently, our national hatchery at Aruligo in West Guadalcanal which is supported by the New Zealand Government is now under construction and should be completed by the end of this year. This is in line with the Government Policy towards food security and supporting our people’s livelihood,” he said.
Mr Honiwala assured SPC, that Solomon Islands will seek technical supports from them when the need arises after the completion of the national hatchery at Aruligo. He also thanked the New Zealand Government for supporting Solomon Islands on this very important project.
The meeting also discussed the impact of Climate Change to our Fisheries. This is a serious issue as it will affect all Pacific countries’ economies and livelihoods. SPC has done a-lot of work on this area and a lot of support have been put into efforts to tackle Climate Change impacts on Pacific Fisheries and the Ocean ecosystems. During the meeting some donor partners have committed and assured their support for Climate Change work in the Pacific.
For Solomon Islands, under the Community Based Resource Management (CBRM) Strategy, there is a programme on community resilience and climate change adaption which involves the coastal communities.
Solomon Islands support the proposal to have national focal point for this climate initiative and looking forward to future work and in-country consultations on this work with SPC and other partners.
The future of our fisheries is important and SPC is providing technical and scientific advice on marine ecosystems, fisheries and aquaculture. The Pacific Community has been supporting sustainable development in the Pacific, through science, knowledge, and innovation since 1947. It is the principal intergovernmental organization in the region, owned and governed by its 27 member countries and territories.