The Overseas Fishery Cooperation Foundation of Japan (OFCF) and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, last week, signed documents containing records of the 10th Joint Meeting between the two parties paving the way for further financial and technical assistance to the Sea Cucumber Project in Solomon Islands.
The documents were signed by the Minister of Fisheries Hon. Nestor Giro and Managing Director, Technical Corporation Department within OFCF Mr Ankyu Seiji San at Jinas Restaurant.
Speaking through an interpreter, Mr Seiji-San told the Minister during a courtesy call that the current Sea Cucumber (Peanut Fish) project has faced a lot of challenges because of lack of biological and ecological knowledge about it.
“There is very scarce biological and ecological knowledge and observation about peanut fish so I understand that this project with your country has been quite challenging,” he told Hon. Giro.
He said despite of the challenges, OFCF and MFMR have made significant progresses in the past 10 years though researches and studies they are able to improve seed production.
Mr Seiji-san, however admitted that there are still more activities that needs to be done to achieve the ultimate goal of sea cucumber resources recovery and management.
He said 10 years has passed and phase two of the project will be ending this year, but OFCF feel that they cannot terminate the project yet and has made a proposal to their government to continue funding the project for a further three years.
“The pre-conditions of my proposal is that the Japanese Government will allocate budget for this project and also we can obtain continued cooperation from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources.
“Based on these pre-conditions we would like to further promote the capacity building in the next three years until 2022, and during the same time we would like to finalise the resource recovery and Management Plan guideline and hand it over to MFMR and your ministry will carry out the sea cucumber resource management,” said Mr Seiji-San.
“Additionally, he said if the MFMR can agree with the proposal OFCF is ready to continue on with the project,” he added
In his response, the Minister of Fisheries thanked and acknowledge OFCF for the ongoing assistance to MFMR and Solomon Islands which its people continues to enjoy today.
The Minister expressed his confidence that the meeting will further strengthened the work collectively carried out by both the OFCF and the Ministry of Fisheries on the sea cucumber project.
“My Ministry looks forward for OFCF leadership and support to achieve the goals of the next phase of the sea cucumber project. Furthermore, the support will contribute well to fisheries development and aquaculture in Solomon Islands,” he told the OFCF delegation.
Two communities, one in Ngella and Marau were beneficiaries of the assistance from OFCF in 2019. Both received technical support and training in how to manage the sea cucumber project.
According to the Minister, sea cucumber is an Important, lucrative commodity for Solomon Islands and its people because processed beche-de-mer brings in foreign income and livelihood opportunities for Solomon Islands.
This fishery has been over exploited
The sea cucumber project was established in 2010 by OFCF – Japan and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources purposely to support the recovery of depleted stock of the wild peanut fish species.
“I believe the project is the first of its kind to be done in the region on peanut fish and the technology and hatchery techniques acquired is equally important for other countries in the Pacific region.
The Fisheries Minister said the project has achieved a lot since it started with the production of first hatchery raised juveniles.
“This is an important accomplishment because it closes the life cycle of peanut fish sea cucumbers in hatchery,” he said.
Additionally, the improvement in the survival rate of juvenile sea cucumber is largely due to improved feeding techniques, the Minister of Fisheries said.
He assured the OFCF delegation that the Solomon Islands government through the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources is committed and continued to support the project with recent recruitment of two local counter-parts within the aquaculture Division and an allocation of an operational budget for 2020.
Honourable Ghiro thanked the Japanese Government through OFCF for the support given to the Ministry of Fisheries since the peanut fish project started.
He said through this mutual cooperation with Japan, Solomon Islands is able to receive both technical and financial support from OFCF.
The Fisheries Minister urged the OFCF head of delegation Mr Ankyu San to convey his government’s gratitude to the government and people of Japan for their continuous support to Solomon Islands in particular the fisheries sector.