By MALUM NALU
PAPUA New Guinea is the leading fisheries nation of the Pacific and a dominant force in regional tuna fisheries management and development, according to National Fisheries Authority managing director Sylvester Pokajam.
Mr Pokajam made this assertion in Kavieng last Friday during the graduation of the first-ever fisheries and marine resources degree students from the University of Natural Resources and Environment.
The graduation took place at the National Fisheries College in Kavieng.
“Although this has yet to be adequately measured, I am proud to advise you all that, in the opinion of many, Papua New Guinea is the leading fisheries nation of the Pacific and a dominant force in regional tuna fisheries management and development,” Mr Pokajam said,
“I believe our commitment to skill and capacity building though the effective operation of the National Fisheries College is a significant contributing factor in placing PNG in this leading position.
“As you all know, the National Fisheries Authority is a statutory authority charged with the challenging task of managing and developing the marine resource of PNG for the sustainable benefit of all.
“We are the only fisheries agency in the region that has a fisheries college as one of its operational divisions.
“This makes us unique in region but it also provides us with a significant challenge to gain a cost benefit from our investment in education and training.”
Mr Pokajam said for the past 10 years, NFA had delivered 100% subsidised training to the fisheries sector of PNG in small fishing operations and commercial fisheries.
“Every year, our budget had increased and this year for the first time, we introduced a 20% cost recovery component to all our courses,” he said.
“This is a good start but what we really need to see is real benefits coming from the training we deliver in terms of productivity and employment.”
Mr Pokajam commended members of the graduating fisheries observe class who have completed a course of study as Pacific Island regional fisheries observers.
“Through the commitment of our fisheries observer programme and the National Fisheries College, and the support of the Forum Fisheries Agency and the Secretariat for the Pacific Community, Papua New Guinea has led the region in fisheries observer training section within the college,” he said.
“We are now the only institution in the region to be endorsed to deliver the new regional standard fisheries observer qualification without teaching and technical inputs from SPC and FFA.
“Our fisheries observer tutors are now the first and currently the only certified regional observer trainers.
“This is an excellent achievement for all concerned and a further indication of our leading role in regional tuna fisheries management.
“This current observer course is the first ever in which we have hosted regional students and, in support of our Pacific neighbour, all four of our 2010 courses will have reservations for Pacific regional students.”
Mr Pokajam said the commercial fisheries and post-harvest programme had underpinned the college since the inception of the AusAID – funded National Fisheries College Strengthening Project.
“Again, we are the only fisheries agency in the region that is able to offer this technical training to industry,” he said.
“We have watched with increasing confidence the growing confidence and capacity of the commercial fisheries and post-harvest staff teams in NFC and I believe our technical courses in these areas are efficiently delivered and highly relevant.
“My challenge to the graduates of these courses is to return to your respective work places and apply your new-found skills and knowledge to our collective challenge of growing PNG capacity in both fishing and processing, thereby adding to the value which PNG can obtain from our fisheries resources.”