Solomon Islands and Korea renews fishing access agreement

The Solomon Islands Government through the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) has successfully negotiated a new Fishing Access Agreement with the Korea Overseas Fisheries Association, which was signed last week.

Under the renewed agreement, Korea Overseas Fisheries Association is buying more Vessel Days from Solomon Islands for their 2021 fishing operations in our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) – a positive development for the country’s economy in view of the negative impacts of covid-19.

The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Nestor Giro signed the renewed agreement on behalf of the Solomon Islands Government with the Chair of the Korea Purse Seine Committee, which allows 26 Korean purse seine fishing vessels to access and fish in our territorial waters in 2021.

The Fisheries Minister thanked KOFA for their understanding of our difficult situation in this COVID-19 pandemic.

“Since early March, we have made sacrifices. We had closed down our borders to international travel and put in strict standard operational procedures (SOPs) in all sectors of the economy including fisheries, despite our small, vulnerable and fragile economy. KOFA’s flexibility to accommodate Solomon Islands request to buy more fishing days reflects KOFA’s mutual understanding of our needs during this difficult times,” Minister Giro said.

He also thanked KOFA for the safe repatriation of our observers since the FFA region agreed to suspend all observer vessel boarding during this COVID-19 pandemic period.

“We are indeed grateful for the support, commitment and care you have provided to our observers to ensure their safe return,” Giro added.

The Solomon Islands Fisheries Negotiation Team to this virtual meeting with Korea included the Minister of Fisheries Hon Nestor Giro, the Permanent Secretary Dr Christain Ramofafia, Deputy Secretary – Technical, Ms Rosalie Masu, Director of Fisheries, Mr Edward Honiwala and Chief Crown Counsel, Mrs Rosemary Maefiti Soma, representing the Attorney General’s Chambers.

The MFMR Team will continue its virtual fisheries access negotiations with Japan, Taiwan and Philippine companies over the next two weeks through zoom meetings.

The MFMR usually secures the bulk of its annual revenues for the country from these negotiations, making MFMR the second largest revenue contributor behind Ministry of Finance’s Customs and IRD.

The virtual negotiation meeting was conducted through a zoom platform using the Ministry’s newly purchased videoconference facility.

The Permanent Secretary, Dr Christain Ramofafia, thanked the World Bank group through its in-house Pacific Region Oceanscape Programme (PROP) for purchasing the equipment for the Ministry.

The purchase was also timely given the many fisheries virtual meetings organised in the FFA region together with our own upcoming fisheries access consultations this month, Director of Fisheries, Mr Edward Honiwala, added.