Unused Blacksands fish processing plant to finally open, says PM Salwai

Coming soon to Blacksands; tuna boats

Coming soon to Mele Bay, Blacksands; tuna boats by the dozen

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.

A Chinese fishing boat flying a Vanuatu flag of convenience, in Suva Harbour, Fiji

A Chinese fishing boat flying a Vanuatu flag of convenience, in Suva Harbour, Fiji

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.


9 Comments on “Unused Blacksands fish processing plant to finally open, says PM Salwai”

  1. Ivan says:

    It’s interesting to note that “proper” overseas funded contracts, either grants or loans within the construction sector call for a 80% minimum national worker compone… I see the Chinese Melanesian road village, now the airport access road Chinese village and now the latest Chinese village being constructed on white sands/shark bay road…if the proportions are adhered to with all these Chinese dictated ventures… fish… mini games… malapoa … PM’s office then no doubt we will not have enough ni-vans to handle the work… of course that’s based on 20/1!!!!!


  2. 01 says:

    The answer is very easy, just go to Fiji and see the devastation a similar fish factory has brought to the society as well as the environment. btw … what category will the Prostitution Business Licences be under ….


  3. Pete says:

    My observation of the structue at Blacksands and the proliferation of Chinese infiltrating our construction scene would be a good combination to dismantle what’s there and rebuild at say Forari or wherever more suitable, close to the sea would help! They would have it done by July easily.


  4. Alan Holden says:

    A retrograde step. I thought this new Government might have a little more savvy. The implications for the whole area are serious. With a Chinese fishing industry in the area, tuna will be rapidly wiped out. The impact on the tourism industry will only add to the situation they already face thanks to the previous government’s lack of input together with Virgin and co.


  5. dailyvanuatu says:

    That’s quite an about face on this issue Bob – can you talk us through what changed your mind about the Blacksands fish processing plant?


    • bobmakin says:

      The “No Fishery” policy was that of the newspaper I worked for seeking green-er issues to support. But there have been unloadings of fish at the Fisheries Wharf downtown for years now, and no complaints. And pontoons ought to be able to serve a professionally operated fishery adequately and we have a stronger and very professional Environment Department keeping watch. But Raubani said it all. “We are closer to Australia and New Zealand.” We should enjoy the financial advantage this gives us over easterly neighbour countries. In the face of that, The Independent’s worry that long liners’ anchors might dig up the internet cable seems fairly lame.


  6. This suggestion is ludicrous and the tourism sector will oppose this idea which will destroy the best tourism playground that we have around Vila. My understanding is that the government understands the need for an alternate site for such an idea which where it is located will be a negative for the locals and the country in general. In no time the waters around Vanuatu will be devoid of game fishing and this removing yet another industry from our shores. I call on PM to reconsider such a move

    Bryan Death
    Vanuatu Hotels and Resorts Association


    • Kalowie Robert says:

      All the more reason to take the tourism that is so concentrated in Vila to rural Vanuatu, where the very best sustainable tourism playgrounds are located and 80% of the population lives. Vanuatu needs to maximise its revenue generation from ALL its productive sectors. What is the value of the revenue generated from game fishing compared to tuna fishing?


  7. Barry Tween-Cain says:

    As an ex longtime resident of Vanuatu (17 years) I believe the proposed fishing base in Mele would eventually become a regrettable conclusion. Not knowing all the details I would recommend the Ni-Vanuatu people involved in this project and the Govt. consider the long term implications. ie. for the village of Mele and the shoreline of Mele beach.
    Unless there are some very stringent controls and health regulations strictly imposed I can only foresee future problems.
    Vanuatu is one of the most beautiful countries in the South West pacific region, as I have seen most, and I believe the country could do far better concentrating on the Tourism Industry on a far larger scale and with outside financial assistance, especially in some of the outer islands, where cruise ships could anchor safely, the industry could show considerable growth and enable the locals of those areas to be involved and reap the rewards of entertaining and dealing direct with the visitors.
    Vanuatu has a considerable growth potential in Tourism.
    Don’t let other South Pacific Islands take this industry away from you.

    Food for thought
    Barry Tween-Cain