We're going to need a bigger boat: local fishing industry told to match competitors
Local fishing operators should to invest in bigger fishing boats to maintain and increase the economic benefits of Samoa's fishery resources, the Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.) has said.
Ulu Bismarck Crawley said fisheries remain one of Samoa’s main sources of income for locals and subsistence use, but locals need to make investments in their fleets to match foreign fishing vessels in our waters.
In yesterday’s front page, the Samoa Observer carried an interview with a local tuna fisher in Siumu who raised concerns that Chinese fishing vessels are taking over local markets with the possible effect of decreasing local incomes.
But, in reference to modelling that suggests that the population of Skipjack tuna in Samoan waters will increase by up to 40 per cent by 2050, Ulu said fishing businesses needed to make investments in their own capacities.
If there is an increase in fish numbers, that will be a challenge for local vessels as bigger competitors move in, he said.
“So local fishermen need to match up to these fishing vessels, get bigger fishing vessels as it will be good for those doing cash fishing, and also for those into subsistence fishing as fish is a good source of protein," Ulu said.
He added he is not aware of any reports of illegal fishing vessels in our waters, which shows the strength of the maritime police.
“We have good maritime policing and that is why there are no fishing vessels in our waters illegally catching fish," he said.
“We have an Exclusive Economic Zone (E.E.Z) but we still have to determine its size as we share the E.E.Z. with Tokelau, Tonga, American Samoa and Wallis and Futuna.”
Ulu was the Chairman for the Fifth Pacific Meteorological Council Meeting that concluded in Apia on Friday.
He said for Samoa to host and chair such conferences gives the country the lead role on tackling meteorology and hydrology matters in the region.
“This (meeting) is an opportunity for Samoa to learn from the experience of other countries, early warning systems, and discuss challenges and solutions with other met service providers,” said Ulu to the Samoa Observer.
He added Samoa and the region look forward to the 25th Conference of the Parties (C.O.P.) in Chile in December to discuss the region’s shared concerns on the ocean and its resources.
The region’s shared sentiments on the importance of the ocean in the climate system have been recognised and the COP25 is being tagged as the “Ocean COP”.
At the COP24 meeting in Poland, Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi expressed concerns that coral reefs, which provide about 70 percent of the Pacific islanders’ food protein and protect coastal dwellings, will be severely damaged at 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.
US Coast Guard vessels will be in Samoa this month as part of a mission to jointly enforce maritime laws inside Samoa's Exclusive Economic Zone in August.
Samoan shipriders will join the Coast Guard on patrol with a focus on identifying and deterring illegal, unreported and unregulated shipping and respond to the increasing threat posed by drug trafficking.
A 2016 report by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency estimated: “the total value of illegally harvested or transshipped tuna at about $616 million a year. This amounts to more than 12 percent of the $5 billion in dock value Pacific generated in 2014, a significant loss for Pacific Island countries".