Monday, December 27, 2010

Fishing lessons from Tahiti


Bulolo MP Sam Basil has taken three weeks off his busy political schedule to take his wife and children to Papeete, French Polynesia (Tahiti), where his wife comes from.
Not one to waste time, he has contacted politicians and businesses in Papeete, about how this country and Papua New Guinea can strengthen their economic and political ties.
Just before Christmas, Basil has a chance to see logline fishing boats sailing in to offload their catches at the fish wharf.

Basil admiring a big moon fish at the French Polynesia fish market
“The reason why I am interested to visit this establishment is that in PNG we have a well-established National Fisheries Authority (NFA) which I believe is the best in the Pacific Islands nations of fisheries in terms of regulating and also monitoring fishing activities of the long line, purse seiner operators and other fishing activities,” he said from Papeete.
“Unlike PNG, the Tahitians do not allow many purse seiner operators into their waters because they reckon it is too destructive and unsustainable, as the kilometer-long destructive nets scoop up everything from the ocean with unnecessary by-catches.
Basil being shown around the waterfront fish market in Papeete

“The purse seiner nets scoops up turtles, sea birds, sharks, dolphins and many other sea creatures including endangered species like the big eye tuna and others.”
Basil said he also had the chance to meet Joseph Teanotoga, chairman of the government-owned SEML Tahiti Nui Rava’ai a, local company set up the French Polynesian government to help the local fishing industry.
Basil with Joseph Teanotoga, who is now in control of the French Polynesian government's investment in long line boats

“They took several boats and signed up small fishing businesses to own and operate under a loan programme which didn’t work out, so the government pooled the boats into a government business arm managed under the chairmanship of Teanotoga,” he said.
“Teanotoga boasts that about 80% of the loan has been retired and by end of 2011 they should break free from their liabilities.
“The lesson’s learnt here are that fishing business is a very hard business with needs huge capital investment, especially the purchasing of boat and the first few months of operational expenses with a well-facilitated and dedicated wharf.
“We all know NFA is efficiently operated in PNG with enough revenue and must now invest into establishing a local auction market to properly regulate and allow locals to participate in the long line businesses and also the purse seiner business.
“A dedicated wharf and facilities such as the ice-making machines, back-up generator and auction facilities will cost us millions of kina which will be hard to establish at first, but with commitment from NFA and proper management and control can make tuna business available for all citizens to participate.
“Currently in PNG, the system favours outside investors who knows the business well and have the cash to come and participate, but as a responsible country we must use NFA to teach our people how to participate and make funding and facilities as such available to facilitate this important industry.
“The fishing business must be driven by nationals from trawling, beche de mer, and long line and purse seiners.
“Some people think it is impossible because they do not believe in themselves but I reckon PNG needs a change.”

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