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‘Sustaining tuna stocks remains a challenge’: Dr. Aqorau

Dr Transform Aqorau was former Chief Executive Officer of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement in Majuro, Marshall Islands.

Solomon Islands has one of the healthiest tuna stocks compared to other countries in the region and beyond, says former Chief Executive Officer of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, PNA, Dr Transform Aqorau.

Dr Aqorau told an SIBC interview over the weekend, the country’s tuna stocks are the healthiest at the moment and tuna prospects are looking good.

“Tuna stocks at this point in time is the healthiest of all the stocks in the other oceans, we have the only healthiest and so the prospects of the stocks in terms of its health is looking really good at this point in time.

“The other thing also is that we’ve got a very good management framework in place, we have what they call limit reference points that’s basically in layman’s terms mean we have already agreed on where we want the level at which we cannot take down our stocks”.

But the founder and CEO of iTuna Intel and Pacific Catalyst, a consortium of universities, said an ongoing challenge for the country’s tuna stocks is sustainability.

“I think the ongoing challenge of course is to ensure its sustainability underneath the water. There’s two challenges I see, underneath the water the challenge is to make sure that the stock continues to remain healthy, that there’s enough we keep so we cannot take too much out of the water that we deplete it because then it will affect us in two ways.

Tuna sold at a Solomon Islands fish market.
Photo: Professor Johann Bell

“One is the fishery itself becomes unprofitable and then when you have an unprofitable fishery, it reduces the revenues that the government can earn, so it’s a concern for us to make sure that underneath the water fish remains healthy”.

Meanwhile, Dr. Aqorau said having a second tuna cannery can ease the country’s challenge of unemployment.

He said one needs not to be a rocket scientist to work out what a second cannery can do.

In of the country’s major challenge, he said, is how to extract grater economic benefits through job creation.

“The biggest challenge for us is how to extract greater economic benefits through the creation of jobs. You don’t have to be a rocket science to see what a second industry can do to transform the economy especially when you see all these people roaming the streets of Honiara.

“So we seriously need to think about having another plant and I, you know Bina is the most logical place and you know, my appeal to the people of Bina and Malaita is that there are trade offs to be made between short and long term gains”.

Dr Aqorau added, we need to make decisions now rather than focusing only on short-term benefits.

“So many of us we probably want to get the benefits very quickly now, monetary benefits buts we have to make short-term sacrifices by allowing our land so that our children will benefit.

“And so my little appeal to the people of Bina through this program,  is you can benefit and you will benefit and so you can leave aside your differences for now and whatever it is that’s holding you up in exchange for making sure that your children get the benefits”.

By: Rickson Bau

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