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Hopes to boost fish export: Seruiratu

 

Apr 11, 2014 08:10:39 AM

Hopes to boost fish export: Seruiratu Fiji exported FJ$5.9 million worth of fish and fisheries products to the European Union last year.

And Fisheries Minister Lt Colonel Inia Seruiratu anticipates the figure to increase as the country expects to gradually increase exports over the coming months by taking advantage of the Marine Stewardship Council certification on its albacore long line fleet.

He also reassured Fiji’s commitment to efforts to combat illegal fishing as per the European Union’s IUU Fishing Regulations of 2008, recognizing the EU as being an important market for the country’s sugar and fish and fishery products.

Addressing Trade Ministers and officials of the Pacific ACP countries in Suva last night, Seruiratu admitted that Fiji’s yellow carding by the EU in October 2012 was a wake-up call.

Since then the Fiji Fishing Industry has implemented reforms to fix weaknesses that were identified and effectively and efficiently contribute to the global combat of IUU fishing.
Changes included modernisng the fisheries laws through the promulgation of the Offshore Fisheries Management Decree in 2012.

It has also reviewed their Tuna  Management and Development Plan and the National Plan of Action on IUU Fishing that were adopted in March 2014, it formulated the national plan of action on sharks, formulated a strategy on national fleet operating areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), and drafted an offshore fisheries management regulation.

The fisheries ministries has also beefed up its work force, approving 25 new positions that have been filled in January this year,  bringing the total work force to 53. These new recruits also underwent training on the new fisheries laws, fisheries investigation. Later this month they will be undertaking training on dockside boarding and inspection.

Seruiratu credits the assistance of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and EU-funded initiatives administered by FFA and SPC in the successful implementation of these reforms.

“The only two outstanding issues we have with the EU are the adoption of the Offshore Fisheries Management Regulation and that of the strategy on our fleet operating in the ABNJ,” Seruiratu said.

“In this regards we anticipate the adoption of both outstanding issues by cabinet before the end of this month.”

Seruiratu also called on Pacific ACP member countries to “accept with open arms and comply with findings” should they be visited by the EU IUU Fishing Regulation compliance team which is mandated to identify weaknesses in countries with regards to combating IUU fishing.

“Comply with the findings,” he said.

He said if the countries feel the recommendations are impinging in their sovereignty, Seruiratu urged leaders to be open-minded and discuss it with the concerned authority.

“At this juncture the finalization of the negotiations is very important for some of the PACP states. As a united region we can achieve a better agreement on our terms that provides markets and at the same time ensures the sustainability of our vital resources for the betterment of our people,” Seruiratu said.

The PACP Trade Ministers meeting continues today in Suva.

FijiLive
 

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