The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) convened the first meeting of the Bina Harbour Tuna Processing Plant (BHTPP) Project Technical Working Group (TWG) on Monday 15 November.
The Group’s membership includes the Deputy Secretaries (Technical) of key Ministries, or their equivalents, the Office of the Prime Minister, the Malaita Provincial Government, and representatives of development partners actively supporting the project, namely the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), the Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group. Authorised observers and MFMR technical advisors also participated, both in person and online.
The Bina Harbour TWG is a key part of the Project’s governance arrangements, responsible for providing technical insights and advice to the BHTPP Project team and for coordinating the whole-of-government cooperation necessary to make the complex, national priority project a success. Recommendations of the TWG are elevated to the Project Steering Committee for deliberation and action.
This first meeting of the TWG was aimed at familiarising participants with the project’s overall concept and implementation plan and building awareness of the roles each agency can play in progressing the project.
Participants learned of the significant support being provided to the project by New Zealand, including its commitment to financing establishment of a well-resourced Bina Harbour Project Office in the new year, as well as separate grant funding for establishing and mentoring of legal entities to represent the interests of the customary rights holders to the land, water source and harbour access required for the project.
The BHTPP Project team also outlined progress to date, with updates on land settlement, the infrastructure required to establish a tuna port at Bina, possible financing options, engagement with global tuna industry operators expressing interest in investing in a tuna processing plant, and the further sites works, and other activities required to ready the project for financing.
Much of the discussion focused on the need to identify a reliable water source for the processing plant and the growing township which would follow, and the need to scope, design and contract the water supply and wastewater treatment system as a priority.
MFMR shared the project’s 5-year forward workplan with participants, while the development partners reiterated their ongoing interest in the project and discussed the assistance they are committed to or considering, including Australia’s interest in potentially supporting the water work through the Solomon Islands Infrastructure Program.
MFMR will now convene a BHTPP Project Development Partners’ Roundtable in early December aimed at firming up support commitments and harmonising inputs, including the possibility of all stakeholders agreeing to accept common environmental and social safeguards standards for the project.
-Bina Harbour Project Media Release