More than just tuna

Prime Minister James Marape with filleted fish inside the cool storage facility in Manus recently launched on Lorengau town.

THE National Fisheries Authority (NFA) is acting on the Governments directive to make the fisheries sector in the country to be broad-based and not dependent only on tuna fisheries, says acting managing director Justin Ilakini.
He told the people of Manus recently during the launching of a fisheries processing and cold storage facility in Lorengau town that NFA was now focusing on delivering a number of empowerment projects to develop coastal, inland, aquaculture and other fishery activities to diversify the fisheries sector.
“Government has given a clear policy directive to have a sector that is broad-based, not dependent on tuna,” Ilakini said.
“Tuna is PNG’s biggest and valuable resource but the majority of people do not directly participate in tuna fishing; they participate in coastal fisheries, inland fisheries and aquaculture fisheries.
“In response to the Government directive, over the last two-and-half years, we did everything possible to make sure that we respond to the policy directive.
“An example is coastal fisheries development.
“We have worked very closely with very important development partners like Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and the Overseas Fishery Cooperation Foundation (OFCF) in building vital coastal fisheries infrastructures in coastal maritime provinces.
“In collaboration with Manus fisheries, NFA officers will be going around to a number of fisheries cooperatives in Manus in setting up their cooperatives.
“Fisheries in Manus perhaps could be the only resources that all Manusians can identify with.
“It is with that recognition that NFA, under a recently launched strategic plan, made a very concerted effort to make sure that 80 to 90 per cent of our people that are involved in this sector, especially coastal fisheries, can directly participate through a number of empowerment programmes and project initiatives.
“A number of these initiatives have come to fruition and we are going to go from here and into the next 10 years as stipulated in the NFA Strategic Plan 2021 to 2030.

NFA promotes fisheries projects via cooperatives in Manus islands
Women on Langendrowa Island in Manus performing a traditional dance during the launching of fisheries projects in the province.

“The Prime Minister has made a very important announcement that Manus is now a special economic region.
“This is a big legislation that the Government has made for the people of Manus and NFA will support this legislation through fisheries programmes and assistance of infrastructures.”
“Fisheries and Marine Resource Minister Dr Lino Tom says tuna accounts for about 95 per cent of the revenue that we generate in NFA and only big companies participate in this industry.
“People in the villages do not participate in the tuna industry so the vision of the Government is to reach out to those in the villages so in line with that, we want to promote coastal fisheries, inland fisheries and those types of things.
“We have a lot of partnership programmes with the Japanese Government; they come in big projects like the Alotau project which is about K40 million and projects like this to actually benefit the people on the ground.
“This facility is a fish processing center and also has ice making machines. This is to make it easy for fishers to go out to catch fish and maintain the integrity and the quality of the fish and so that when they bring it here, they have a facility where they can process and sell their catch,” Ilakin said.
Local participation and issues
An empowerment intervention being rolled out by NFA and other government agencies like the Department of Commerce and Industry is the creation of cooperative societies.
Manus alone has around 16 cooperative societies. Among them are Langenrowa Fisheries Cooperative, Liuliu Seasweed Cooperative Society and Honola Fishing Cooperative, just to name a few.
Chairman of the Honola Fishing Cooperative Felix Meli said their interest has been there for a long time.
“We started our interest in fish farming with a bush material house on the island.
“We went into fishing operations and started marketing at the fish market in Manus. Unfortunately, the fish market is not consistent so we didn’t succeed. It is usually operational for one month and is closed for the next three months.
“It is hard for us to go into fisheries but as an industry player we do not give up, we are still doing it.
“We see now that the Government has a plan for us and is focus ing on us small industry players. We are happy for this,” Meli said.

Dried seaweed on Liuliu Island in Manus. The Liuliu Seaweed Cooperative wants funding support to sustain their project and also an export licence so they can produce and sell more.

Liuliu Seaweed Cooperative chairman Peter Muli said” “Our project is running well and will still continue.
“We need support (funding) to continue this project. We also want an export license so we can produce and sell to markets abroad.”
Langendrowa Cooperative Society chairman Karol Kisokau said banks needed to simplify their lending requirements to provide access to fundsby cooperatives.
He also said there was a need for consultation between cooperatives, NFA and other agencies.