Over the last two months the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has been dealing with two separate groups from the Luapel House of Chiefs from Ontong Java.
Since a first meeting with Mr Peter Kalalis group on 22nd August, MFMR have continued to hold meetings and to respond in writing to their queries.
The two groups have different requests. One group wants to open the beche-de-mer fishery and one wants to manage the fishery and ensure compliance with the current national regulation.
The Director of Fisheries Mr Edward Honiwala has clarified that the beche-de-mer fishery is currently closed. The MFMR undertook these actions as mandated by the Fisheries Management Act 2015 to ensure that the resources that the people of Solomon Islands rely on are not over-exploited and that they remain for future generations.
He clarified that beche-de-mer was closed on the 31st May 2019, approved by cabinet and published in the gazette, and that any harvesting since that date is illegal. Requests to re-open the beche-de-mer fishery have been denied. The Director also clarified that, in accordance with the Fisheries Management Act 2015 once a fishery is closed any export licenses become null and void. Exporters were given three months to shift their existing product in their warehouses but then all licenses automatically expired at the end of August.
This information has been relayed to each group from the Luapel House of Chiefs in meetings during August and September and has been presented to both groups in writing.
The MFMR has requested a meeting with both groups of representatives from the Luapel House of Chiefs on Monday 30th September at its office to further discuss their concerns.