by online editor
HM Statement for National Offshore Summit
Kauoman ni Beretitenti, Colleague Honourable Ministers and Your Good Wives, Secretaries, Diplomatic Corp, Head of Churches, Our fishing partners from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, United States of America, Singapore, European Union and South America Invited Participants Ladies and Gentlemen
If you would allow me to extend a warm welcome on behalf of the Government and people of Kiribati to you all and in particular to our valued and respected Fishing Partners to our beautiful but humble atolls of Kiribati:
Kam na bane ni Mauri
It is indeed a great honour and privilege as the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Development to deliver the opening remarks at this first National Offshore Fisheries Summit held this year.
The theme for this year’s Summit: “Partnering for Sustainable Development and Management of the Tuna Resources”.
This theme highlights, foremost, the keen interest of the Government of Kiribati, particularly my Ministry, to work together in a partnering approach with all existing Fishing Partners to deliver achievable development aspirations and at the same time ensure for the long term sustainability of our marine resources, especially tuna, that we all rely on.
The tuna resource is the most important resource, not only to the Government of Kiribati but to our local populace as well and to our fishing partners present here with us today. Tuna has contributed significantly to the food security of the people of Kiribati and the offshore licensing revenue obtained from tuna fishing has on average contributed 70% of the Government budget annually. This highlights that the
sustainability of our tuna resources by fishing partners both foreign and domestic is of paramount to enable both Kiribati and Distant Water Fishing Nations to mutually benefit from this resource on a long term basis. Through this approach, fishing partners will maximise their catch in a sustainable and uncompetitive manner whilst we, Government of Kiribati can capitalise our revenue from the value of this resource.
As tuna is the most important single resource for Kiribati, this is the reason why the Government has selected fisheries along with tourism as two key priorities for economic development currently reflected in our Kiribati 20 Years Vision known as in short (KV20).
In acknowledging the contributions you have all made through partnering with the Government of Kiribati in tuna related activities, such as in offshore licensing, operation of joint venture fishing companies and other related fishing activities, it is important that a gathering such as this be convened to allow the Government to maintain and strengthen its relationship with all of you.
The Government intends to share its overarching policies and development strategies in fisheries during this summit where we would challenge each of your individual contributions and comment on how we would mutually approach such developmental aspirations for the benefit of both parties, Government of Kiribati and our fishing partners.
Among other objectives of this summit, my Ministry is very keen to establish mutual trust with all our tuna fishing investors through mechanisms that advocate healthy and productive offshore fisheries for socio-economic opportunities and joint-projects that are aligned with the current Government of Kiribati Manifesto in realizing the Kiribati 20 Years Vision (KV20) for the mutual benefit of both parties. Some of these activities include, but are not limited to;
Increasing Transshipment in Ports – to allow better utilization of Kiribati’s transshipment ports and monitoring and recording of fish landed and transshipped in ports to ensure biological sustainability and integrity of the tuna resources. Increasing visits to the soon to be constructed transshipment hubs will allow vessels smooth access to our vast and rich waters through the provision of support services such as net mending, bonded warehouse, provision of supplies;
Increasing Employment Opportunities – for the local people and to address the issue of high unemployment currently existing in Kiribati. The Government is keen to promote the capabilities and qualification of I-Kiribati seamen and fishermen to work on board tuna fishing vessels, support vessels and merchant vessels; Enhancing Tuna Marketing – to strengthen exportation and consistent supply of processed and raw materials from onshore processing facilities and the vast Kiribati EEZs, respectively, to well-established overseas market niches; Combating Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishing – so that the three non-contiguous Exclusive Economic Zones of Kiribati recognized as a vast tuna fishing area having in place collective mechanisms to combat IUU fishing activities and to allow our fishing partners to continue to supply their markets by having access to tuna resources in our rich fishing grounds, and The need to strengthen the licensing arrangement – to ensure the continual accessibility of Kiribati’s genuine fishing partners.
The Government of Kiribati welcomes all your contribution at this very important Summit to enable the Government to revisit its existing policies that may hinder your ability and capabilities to assist in its development and management strategies.
I am indeed optimistic to look forward for a successful outcome of this summit and if you have spare time, I do ask that you also venture out in your own ways sightseeing our beautiful country.
With these few remarks, I wish to bestow upon you all the Kiribati’s blessing of “Te Mauri, Te Raoi and Te Tabomoa”
I now declare the Summit officially open.