The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, launched four major initiatives to boost the development of the Fisheries sector last week.
Held at the Fisheries Wharf, the initiatives included:
• Launch of Samoa’s Tuna Management and Development Plan 2017 – 2021
• Revival of the Fish Aggregating Devices (F.A.Ds) Project
• Dedication of the repair work of research vessel the FV Ulimasao
• Provision of 20 tablets to monitor soon to be deployed F.A.Ds
Speaking about the National Tuna Management and Development Plan, La’auli acknowledged that the industry is facing major challenges to realise its desired benefits and returns.
“These challenges include increasing fishing effort throughout the tuna fishery uncontrolled fishing on the high seas and illegal, Unreporting and Unregulated, or IUU fishing operations having an impact on the vulnerable fishing industry,” he said.
“We have been experiencing fluctuations in catches over the past years with our Government providing support to the industry many factors contribute to the various levels of catches especially the amount of fish available in our small EEZ, and most importantly the biological and migratory nature of tuna stocks.”
Changes in technology and the ability to apply more pressure on the stocks, initiated regional and global mechanisms to manage the tuna stocks. Our National Tuna Management and Development Plan 2017 – 2021 is our commitment to that course.”
The Minister said the Plan outlines the government’s commitment over the next five years to develop and manage tuna resources to maximize economic and social benefits.
“The plan generally covers two key areas. Firstly the management of our tuna resources particularly the licensing arrangements for the tuna long line fishery. Secondly the future development of our tuna industry to sustain and maximize the economic benefits and participation of Our People in the fishery.”
“It provides a policy framework for sustainable development and effective management actions. For the first time, a harvest strategy is being developed as a management tool for our country to meet our regional obligations under regional arrangements and more importantly controls tuna catches for our country.”
Also mitigation measures are being put in place to minimize incidental catches of sharks and species of special interest in ensuring they are safely released back into the ocean.
“Our tuna fisheries are based on stocks that range widely through the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. Therefore, we must cooperate with other Pacific Island countries fishing in these waters, in managing tuna stocks so our hopes could be realized.”
The F.A.Ds Project is equally important. F.A.Ds improve primary production leading to the coming together of tuna species around them.
“Our government through the Ministry has been involved with the F.A.D. Programme supporting the artisanal fishing sector, mainly the alia fleet since 1980.”
It served to increase the production and catches form the tuna fishing fleet at low operational costs
“Despite the positive outcomes of F.A.D. deployments in our waters, the programme was costly and difficult to maintain as most F.A.Ds were lost due to poor designs and at most times destroyed by our own fishers.”
“The participation of our village communities in the management of our coastal fisheries resources with the creation of no take zones in adjacent waters is a great achievement for us.”
“To support these villages’ communities a new near shore and shallow water F.A.D. design is developed so fishers could reach by paddling canoes and smaller crafts. Equally important is the need to divert some of the fishing pressure from the heavily fished lagoons and reefs to offshore waters where F.A.Ds are anchored.”
The Minister also commended the return of F.V. Ulimasao. The vessel was built in 2000 to conduct fisheries scientific and biological studies to train fisheries personnel and test new fishing gear and technology.
“After 17 years since it was built, surviving few cyclones and many trips of research and fishing trials major repair and maintenance work was needed,” said the Minister.
“Today I wish to acknowledge with great appreciation the funding assistance provided by the World Bank through the Samoa Agriculture and Fisheries Cyclone Recovery Project, that has enabled us to bring the old fella back to life.”
Lastly, the Minister said the procurement of 20 tablets will be used by the Fisheries Division to monitor and review the contribution and impact of the soon to be deployed F.A.Ds on food security and the livelihoods of our People.
“I wish to acknowledge F.A.O. and especially my dear friend MS Eriko Hibi the F.A.O. Sub regional Coordinator for the Pacific Islands and F.A.O. Representative in Samoa for the technical assistance that realized the procurement of these 20 tablets for their intended purposes.”
“This technical assistance is part of an F.A.O. project Inking Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2 through inclusive value chain development in the context of Small Island Developing States.”