The Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity, Matai Seremaiah wants to see the Sino-Van Fish Processing Plant at Blacksands up and running.
Minister Seremaiah wants to see all incoming tuna catch from all fishing boats must be processed and sold from Port Vila, for the country to enjoy maximum economic benefit from the highly lucrative marine resource.
Currently all tuna that pass through the plant are weighed then sent on to Fiji where the recipient country claims it and processes it and sells it as its own benefiting significantly from it.
In the Minister’s official address at the Seafront to celebrate World Tuna Day yesterday, Acting Director General, Benjamin Shing said the Minister has mandated him to emphasise on his behalf, that he wants everyone – Government, Private Sector and Sino-Van through Public Private Partnership (PPP) to make the Fish Processing Plant work.
Vanuatu produces 8,000 tons of tuna annually which increases to 15,000 tons with other fish, earning half a billion vatu.
“The Ministry that I am in charge of intends to bring in all our fishing boats to offload their catches in country for us to enjoy economic benefits from this industry”, he said.
“Let me make it clear that so much tonnage of fish leaves our shores for processing abroad and our country is paid a minimal fee for all the catch that is exported.
“Now i am working with the Private Sector and the Chinese Embassy (acknowledging the Embassy for the presence of two representatives), to make sure that the current Tuna Fish Processing Plant at Blacksands becomes operational to allow all incoming tuna catch to be processed in its entirety here”.
The Fish Processing Plant was built 14 years ago and yet, no Vanuatu fish has been offloaded for processing by the plant yet.
The Minister reiterates the importance of ensuring that with its development partner, the Plant is up and running and all fish caught in the country’s exclusive economic zone as well as by all Vanuatu-flagged fishing vessels, is processed locally to also create employment opportunities.
Once again the Acting DG cautions against politicising issues saying for far too long, this has been the case. He suggests for political issues to be put aside and to focus on public interests first.