Gov’t proposes integrated digital catch documentation & traceability scheme

Representatives from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR), the SIG ICT Services, Customs, Health, Soltuna, National Fisheries Development (NFD) and iTUNA Intel conducted a 3-day workshop at Munda from 11-13 March to advance proposals to establish a wholly integrated digital catch documentation and traceability scheme for the Noro Fishing Port which will be known as ePort

In his opening remarks, Eddie Honiwala, Director of Fisheries said “…. we are here to talk about another system to complement our work in trying to manage our important sector…the tuna fishery…The e-port and we want to start it here in Noro our Tuna hub. ePort is part of our effort to improve compliance. It will be part of our MCS tools to address some of the compliance issues”.  He said that “today, as the demand for tuna globally is growing, with the advance technology use by the fishing sector, the government is also trying to put measures to combat those developments. The linkage of information and data from the fishing vessels to the market is vitally important for the Government. The complete information is important for the Government through the Ministry of Fisheries to make Decisions.

Director Honiwala said that “Tuna is highly demanded globally product, and the tuna industry deal internationally with marketing and trade of this product. With the international trading and marketing of this tuna products, there are challenges faced, especially in terms of Compliance and Monitoring. The only solution is to continue and improve on our MCS work and even tools to address those issues. As such this e-port Project will be part of our MCS tools. We have a growing Tuna industry in Solomon Islands, we have Noro, the tuna hub of Solomon Islands. Bina Harbour project is also coming up, which the Government put as its priority project… with those developments in the tuna sector…we must prepare as well”. He said that this system will help to improve the systems for Compliance, reporting, and Licensing, and will complement the other tools for fisheries management that the MFMR uses to monitor the tuna fishery”.

Dr. Transform Aqorau of iTUNA Intel who helped developed the project said, “that the project aims to test the integration of these presently available electronic tools into a pilot in a “port based” context as the starting point for an electronic catch documentation scheme that will provide a substantial benefit to the region”. He said “markets are requiring transparency along the value chain and not only assurances of legality. The recent development of regional “block chain” based traceability tool that could provide assurances beyond the regulatory scope from harvest to export offers a unique opportunity to be integrated in the development, and hence “extend” the range of the assurances provided all the way to the final consumer. He said that “the port of Noro offers a unique opportunity to be a pilot port for this initiative, since it condenses a “microcosms” of fishing in the Pacific; it is the only port in the region where the 3 types of fleets operate  – purse seining, longline and pole-and-line. It exports regionally and internationally whole fish, loins, cans and has a -35C and -50C sashimi exports set up”

Dr. Aqorau said “that Soltuna already has a world class traceability system and that the Port of Noro is ripe for a data integration pilot programme as to make it the first e-port regarding its fisheries operations in the region”.

The Workshop finished on Friday 13.