Regardless of the country’s current Covid-19 State of Emergency, the Savo-Russell constituency in collaboration with the Central Islands Provincial Government has commenced work to develop the fisheries sector in the Russell Islands group.
Fisheries is one of the untapped resources that has the potential to improve livelihoods in the Russell Islands once it is properly developed and managed at the rural community level to supply both local and regional markets.
A memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Constituency, the Central Island Provincial Government (CIP) and the Russell Islands Investment Forum (RIFF) was signed today (30th April 2020) to pave the way to begin the development process.
The signing between the Savo-Russell MP Dickson Mua, CIP Premier Stanley Manetiva and RIFF Chairman Lesley Assad Norris was a culmination of tireless consultative and mapping efforts by responsible national government officials and other stakeholders early this month that organized fishermen and women in the islands into distinctive village fisheries committees.
A total of 9 villages were identified to work within the fisheries framework which has targeted a total of 300 fishers to kick off the project.
During the recent site identification process, the Yandina Fisheries Centre and the constituency fisheries center has been considered as suitable centers that provides facilities to assist fishermen to stock up supplies for the fisheries development programme.
It is anticipated that proper facilities in the Fisheries Centres will enhance the capacity to store, handle and transport fish to markets.
These fisheries centers will soon be rehabilitated to minimum standard for fish storage and handling requirements.
Following a recent follow up assessment on the project area and sites, Provincial Fisheries Officer Mr Jacob Piturara has indicated positive positions outcomes for the project.
All communities consulted during the discussion phases were pleased with the fisheries initiative and had pledged support to organize and develop their fisheries resources.
An elder in Russell Islands stated, that ‘while the fisheries development programme undertaken by the Province, Constituency and people from Russell Islands, it is also important to develop proper management and sustainable practices”.
A woman in Alokan, an island off Banika, expressed that her husband has been a fishermen for the last 20 years and she saw the challenges and hardships that fishermen faced in trying to meet ends.
In supporting the programme, she is pleased that Russell fishermen will be able to get organize and share experiences and at the same time work on how best they could handle their fishing and basic needs.
Hon Dickson Mua is optimistic to the plans of all parties in moving forward together to assist ordinary fishermen and their families.
Fishing is a key income activity in most of the Russell communities apart from coconut and copra. Mr Mua, is looking towards organizing his people in the agriculture sector, he stated there are more opportunities in the agriculture sector especially the coconut industry.
In supporting the programme, the Premier Hon Stanley Manetiva is in Honiara this week to forge a partnership MOU between the parties and to set the momentum for the fisheries programme.
“We are happy to have a plan moving forward and the most important thing is the people must benefit from their resources and improve their everyday livelihood,” Premier Manetiva sai.
“Organization is key and as the Premier for Central Islands Province, I will fully support initiatives that will place my people in a better position,” he added.
The signing of the MOU for the Russell Islands Fisheries Development project was witnessed by interested fishermen from the Malaita Outer Islands (Lord Howe) who have also express interest in developing a similar project for their rich fishing grounds.