The Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB), Matai Seremaiah, has revealed that Sino-Van is planning to install a canned food processing unit once the project becomes operational in October this year.
This is a big step, he said. “It means that in the next five years we expect to see our own canned tuna on the shelves,” said the minister.
Minister Seremaiah made the announcement during a press conference yesterday (Monday) following a briefing with the Sino-Van Board.
The press conference was organised by the MALFFB to update the media and public on the status of the Sino-Van Fisheries Project which has remained non-operational since it was built 14-years ago.
The slow progress of the project is a result of the lack of full support from the government, said Minister Seremaiah.
Another challenge was ensuring the China National Fishery Cooperation (CNFC)’s commitment to the project, he said.
Other government departments and ministries have been urged to cooperate and fast-track the project so that all Vanuatu-caught tuna can be processed locally before it can be sold globally.
Minister Seremaiah has assured that the fish plant at Blacksands will become operational in October this year.
The offloading of tuna in Vanuatu will commence once the main structure of Pontoon and warehouse are shipped to Port Vila from China. The maintenance of existing equipment and facilities will begin in late July while work on the export certification is being carried out.
Once realized, the project will bring economic benefit which include employment, said Minister Seremaiah.
The Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Minister for Trades, Jotham Napat, said the government must provide its full support to make this project work so that it can boost youth employment.
The Ministry of Trades and MALFFB have signed an agreement for collaboration in carrying out the project. The Ministry of Trades concentrates on value-adding and export facilitation.
Sino-Van Project is owned by the CNFC and the government of Vanuatu. CNFC owns 51% shares.
The project was initiated to develop and utilize the fishery resources in Vanuatu, to provide adequate aquatic products for the local people, create employment opportunities and to increase government revenue.