The Phase 2 of the World Bank’s Pacific Islands Regional Oceanscape Program (PROP) is all set for implementation following its launching on Thursday 8th September at the Iron Bottom Sound Hotel.
Known as the Pacific Regional Oceanscape Program for Economic Resilience (PROPER), it replaced the PROP which ended in September 2021.
Speaking prior to its launching, Fisheries Minister Hon. Nestor Giro said PROPER emphasises more on Economic Resilience and his Ministry has been tasked to implement it.
Minister Giro told those present at the launching, that PROPER is valued at USD13.5million of which USD5m is from the International Development Association (IDA) Credit and 8.5 million USD from the International Development Association Grant.
He said PROPER will contribute significantly to strengthening Solomon Islands regional collaborations and national capacity for both Oceanic and Coastal Fisheries over the next five years.
The Fisheries Minister revealed that the achievements, challenges, gaps and learnings of PROP were taken on board when PROPER was designed.
“This second phase was carefully designed with the overarching development objective to strengthen the shared management of selected Pacific Islands’ including Solomon Islands’ oceanic and coastal fisheries, and the critical habitats that we depend on,” Minister Giro said.
He thanked the World Bank Team for their support towards developing the PROPER together with the MFMR Officials and Project Team.
Minister Giro said tuna fisheries have been one of the major revenue while coastal fisheries the mainstay for food and nutrition security, and major livelihood provider for the artisanal and subsistence fishers.
“More than 80 percent of our total population dwell in our rural areas and they depend heavily on the coastal fisheries,” he added.
The Fisheries Minister said that while oceanic and coastal fisheries contributes to food security and livelihood of Solomon Islanders, it also faces threats from climate change, increasing population and high demand for food, conflicting development priorities, loss of habitats, limited capacity for enforcement to name a few.
“But despite all these threats and challenges, I believe that Solomon Islands will continue to strive beyond these challenges and build ourselves to be as resilient as possible,” he added.
The fisheries minister urged the management team of MFMR, who will be leading the implementation of this project to achieve the goals and objectives of this project over the next 5 years.
“I challenge you as the lead implementing ministry to identify and reduce the vulnerabilities of our oceanic and coastal fisheries so that our communities remain resilient. The appropriate policies, tools and management measures we will employ should improve and strengthen our competency to better control, manage and develop our fisheries for the long term benefit of our country today and into the future.
In her response, Ms Nina Doetinchem who represented the World Bank Country Director said she is grateful that PROPER will invest in the foundations needed to increase local transhipments, landing and processing of tuna in country for domestic consumption, local job creation and revenue generation.
The Project will also strengthen the capacity of the Ministry to address illegal fishing through better monitoring and enforcement of Oceanic Tuna fisheries Management measures.
She said under PROPER, a Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Center will be built in Noro, Western Province and a new Fisheries Office in Auki Malaita Province to support the proposed Bina Harbour Tuna Processing Project.
In addition, important investments will also be implemented under PROPER in Coastal Fisheries she said.
“Inshore fisheries play a crucial role in supporting local livelihoods, food security and nutrition adding that with about 80% of Solomon Islanders living in rural areas, fishing activities provide the majority of animal protein in their diet and a vital source for income for most coastal households.
“The importance of fisheries for Solomon Islanders was demonstrated during Covid19 Pandemic when small scale fisheries became even more critical for food security,” she said.