Officials from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and the Overseas Fishery Cooperation Foundation of Japan (OFCF) have held the 12th Joint Steering Committee meeting on their Sea cucumber Project today. This was held through zoom platform.
Opening the meeting, Permanent Secretary, Dr Christain Ramofafia thanked the Japanese government and its people for their ongoing support towards the development of the fisheries sector in Solomon Islands.
He said his ministry continues to receive technical support from OFCF that supports the work of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Solomon Islands.
One of the Ministry’s key projects that receives financial and technical support from the Japanese Government is the Ministry’s Sea cucumber project.
Dr Ramofafia said the completion of the project’s hatchery office last month, demonstrates the strong commitment of OFCF and the trust the Japanese Government through OFCF has towards the Ministry of Fisheries.
“On that note, I would also like to thank the Government and People of Japan for funding this important infrastructure,” he said.
OFCF-Japan’s support towards the Sea Cucumber Project in Solomon Islands spanned over 11 years and the Ministry of Fisheries is grateful for the continued support rendered by OFCF.
Dr Ramofafia also acknowledged that the challenges Solomon Islands, and in particular, the project, faced in 2021, were great and indeed have affected the implementation of many project activities.
“Last year, 2021, was a challenging year for Solomon Islands and the project itself, as we have to realign and work on conditions that were not conducive to progress activities under the project. These include the unavailability of OFCF technical expats due to COVID-19 restrictions, the untimely lifting of the sea cucumber ban and the unrest that happened toward the end of 2021.”
“Despite the challenges, the Solomon Islands Government through its re-direction policy has identified the Sea Cucumber project as a high priority for the Government and its People within the Fisheries Sector,” he added
AS a priority project, the Ministry of Fisheries is required to show tangible output to the government.
Dr Ramofafia said it is for this reason that the Ministry continued to dialogue with OFCF to ensure ongoing commitment and support from both OFCF and MFMR to achieve the tangible outputs as agreed to under the project.
He said with the Covid 19 restrictions, placement of technical experts from Japan on short term attachment has been suspended thus affecting the work at the hatchery and community-led Resource Management.
These experts are purposely engaged to transfer knowledge across specific technical areas and provide trainings for local counter-parts.
Despite the many challenges, the local counterparts have continued to implement project activities, making quite successful results in seed production trials in the last 2 years.
“Their inputs is an important component of the project to ensure appropriate input and transfer of technology to local counter parts and monitors at Marau and Ngella is made successfully. We need to rethink our approach in the context of the COVID 19 restriction and work on a way forward in this regard,” he added.
The Fisheries Permanent Secretary acknowledge and thank Dr KOMATSU Toru San, Advisor for Sustainable Use of Fishery Resources, OFCF, for the technical support rendered in the course of the implementation of the sea cucumber project in 2021/2022 despite the difficult circumstances the country is faced with.
The virtual meeting concluded with both parties agreeing to continue with the project with the view to achieve the outputs of the project that will lead ultimately to the sustainable management and the development of the sea cucumber fishery in the country.