O’Neill spurs Pacific to reel in illegal fishing


PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has urged Pacific Islands leaders to stop predatory behaviour by firms that take an unfair advantage in the fisheries sector so that value can be added to exports.
Speaking at the Pacific Islands Forum private-sector dialogue on Ocean commerce yesterday, O’Neill said the political strength of Pacific Islands nations to correct inappropriate practices was often underestimated
“In the Pacific, we are small population-wise, but we can be very influential when we work together in the global community,” he said.
“The ocean territory our countries occupy is vast and has an abundance of marine resources.
“Too often the great wealth that belongs to the people of the Pacific is exploited and taken to foreign shores.
“For many years in Papua New Guinea, we had been licensing foreign vessels to fish in our waters.
“This delivered minimal benefit for our economy and did not create any jobs for our people while our fish stocks were seriously damaged.
“Manufacturers from other countries had also taken advantage of inefficiencies in the sector and only processed the bare minimum.”
O’Neill said the government reached a point where enough was enough, and was now making deliberate interventions where exploitation was evident.
“We are now changing the dynamics of the fisheries sector in our country so that we do not let foreign firms take away our marine wealth and leave breadcrumbs behind,” O’Neill said.
“We are getting behind our fisheries sector to stimulate growth in onshore fish processing.
“This proactive approach is creating thousands of jobs, increasing revenue and providing jobs for young fishermen.
“We are pursuing this agenda vigorously and we will work through the Forum and with our partners to stimulate reform around the Pacific.
“All Pacific Nations have the right to protect their marine resources and to draw value from these resources for their people and their economies.
“When we review licensing arrangements that we have in our countries, and the arrangements we have for processing, we can work together in the Pacific to add value together.
“Only by working together can we protect revenue in our countries, create jobs and make sure revenue goes to the right people.”

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