Unused Blacksands fish processing plant to finally open, says PM SalwaiPosted: March 25, 2016
Prime Minister Salwai wants the the fish processing plant at Blacksands near Tagabe ready to process fish in July. So does the Department of Fisheries. Only the international internet cable operators seem to be against the proposal, and their bringing the cable ashore at the same location occurred long after the fish plant was established. ‘What if the anchor of a long liner dug up the cable?’ they ask. They should have thought of that long ago when the processing plant was being hotly debated in the media.
In a long and helpful article in Vila Times last week, Moses Stevens addresses the problems of Vanuatu accessing sustainable exploitation and harvesting of the tuna resource. The principal fisheries planner, Jason Raubani, told Moses that Vanuatu normally grants up to 100 fishing licences for its waters in a year, but with a view to conservation of tuna stocks the number of licences is now reduced to 70 annually. These are primarily for vessels operating from Taiwan, Korea and China. Vanuatu has also reduced its total allowance catch (TAC) from 17,000 metric tons to 15,000 for each licence holder for a year. For Raubani, however, the problem is that we need to unload our catch, right here, not in Fiji, the Solomons or American Samoa. This would “increase our revenue generation and create employment,” says Raubani. Of course. Prime Minister Salwai agrees.
Matai Seremiah, Fisheries Minister, in Parliament, quite clearly agrees. The Blacksands facility has been sleeping for too long, he says. “Whilst there is no wharf yet, temporary pontoons could cope with the off-loading required,” he stresses, and the facility must be operational by July. Daily Post added yesterday that in 2014 Ifira Port Development and Services Company had quashed the plan for Chinese long-liner ships to unload at a pontoon near Star Wharf. However such a central unloading point brings in obvious further difficulties.
There is an outstanding land rent for the Blacksands fishery, but as Raubani says “our geographical location gives us a lot of advantage over other states in the region”, like Fiji, Solomon Islands and American Samoa. “We are close to Australia and New Zealand, and therefore we have a preferable advantage of shipping and good quality supplies to those countries,” he adds. Of course. And the PM, with good reason, is saying let’s go for it.