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New Solomon’s Longliner Policy To Increase Domestic Tuna Landings Solomon Islands, March 9, 12

Following new measures designed to further promote its participation in the tuna industry and to stimulate its growing economy, Solomon Islands Government has changed its policy for issuance of longline fishing licenses. Licenses will now be limited with priority allocation to companies investing in the Solomon Islands.

Terms of the licenses require that fish caught in the Solomon Islands EEZ should be unloaded and processed in Solomon Islands thereby increasing employment through processing and handling of the fish.  Fish landed in Solomon Islands will be exported thereby substantially increasing the country’s foreign exchange earnings and improving its balance of payments.

The new licensing policy also allows for boats to unload their Solomon Islands catch outside of Solomon Islands in 2012, subject to payment by the fishing boat of a penalty.  Not only will this fish not be available for processing in Solomon Islands, it will not be available for inspection by officials from Solomon Islands Ministry of Fishing and Marine Resources who are responsible for surveillance of the fishery and control of the catch.

As part of the rationale for the change in policy was to increase the effectiveness of Solomon Islands control of their fisheries, it is expected that boats which maximize their Solomon Islands landings will have priority in future licensing periods.

Tri-Marine’s National Fisheries Developments Limited has been granted 50 longline licenses in support of Soltai’s processing requirements.

Soltai and NFD currently employ over 1,000 Solomon Islanders.  The new licensing policy will allow Soltai to add a second shift to its processing operations resulting in approximately 500 new jobs, and significantly increase its exports of processed fish.

Joe Hamby, Tri-Marine’s Group Managing Director, welcomed the policy change saying: “We should all congratulate the Government of Solomon Islands for this policy change in support of creating new jobs for Solomon Islanders and promoting domestic economic growth.  The Government’s move will not only provide new jobs, but will also stimulate the creation of new businesses that will cater to the fishing boats and their crews that will now be calling at Solomon Islands ports to buy food, supplies, fuel, bait, make repairs, and enjoy Solomon Islands hospitality.”  Mr. Hamby further stated that “This change effectively increases the participation of Solomon Islands in the tuna industry.  It sets a new standard and puts Solomon Islands in a leadership role in the islandization of the Western and Central Pacific tuna business.”