Agreement with China to boost fishing industry

With the new agreement signed between China and Samoa on fisheries quarantine, the country’s fish exports could be filling China’s shelves in the near future.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F) and China’s General Administration of Customs signed a memorandum of understanding to work on inspection, quarantine and veterinary sanitary requirements for marine exports.

M.A.F. Chief Executive Officer, Tilafono David Hunter, who signed the agreement, said there is a lot to be done before Samoa can tap into the Chinese market. 

Samoa will need to set up a competent authority to handle the licensing, quarantine and inspection, at a standard acceptable to China, he said.

“It’s a one stop shop that has the authority to certify and clear any fishery export to China,” Tilafono explained.

“They are the ones the Chinese counterpart will look at in terms of documentations, whether they are in order.”

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Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, wants to make Samoa the major Pacific export hub for fish and agricultural exports to China, and further afield.

Partnerships like the one agreed to on Saturday will make this vision possible, Tilafono said. 

“We are trying to set up Samoa as that [hub], not only for local vessels but for foreign vessels that have been licenced in Samoa to offload, semi-process, put it in cold storage facilities and ship.”

Pacific analyst and consultant, Dr. Tess Newton Cain, said Samoa and other Pacific Island leaders are looking for “any opportunity to maximise a return on their own resources.

“Whilst being able to charge  someone a license fee to fish in your waters and then take the fish away with them does create a certain amount of revenue into the public purse, there are opportunities to increase that.

“Those opportunities come from agreements around landing the fish, preparing the fish, and then exporting it.”

She said in Vanuatu, a similar agreement was made which eventually progressed to a joint commercial enterprise to export fish from Vanuatu.

In May 2018, Chinese company, SinoVan, agreed to spent US$9.1 million to actually use a tuna processing plant built in Port Vila, which had not been used in 14 years.

Vanuatu’s Minister of Fisheries, Matai Seremaiah, wants to see fish caught locally also be processed onshore rather than in nearby Fiji. 

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