Artisanal fishing is very important as a source of income for some and a source of food for most families. The Operations and Development Section (O&D) is therefore devoted to helping artisanal fishers and their families to ensure safe fishing operations, sustainable fishing practices, healthy fish products, food security and good catch returns. As such, O&D continues to offer capacity building and technical support to all outer islands (OIs) whenever the need arises.
O&D has been and will continue to work together with donor partners to identify alternative fisheries and new fishing grounds in light of new findings indicating that overfishing is occurring in some areas, especially on Funafuti. O&D will also ensure that fisheries activities under the NAPA II project are implemented this year as this will be the final year for that project.
Also O&D will continue to manage the operation of the two vessels, RV Manaui and RV Tala Moana. Depending on decisions of Cabinet, O&D hopes to increase its current manpower by at least one additional staff to ensure efficiency and smooth operation of the two vessels.
Below are the milestone activities to be undertaken by the division in 2018:
· Sea safety: In response to several requests received from the fishermen associations of certain islands, follow up training will be undertaken on all islands;
· Fish smoking training will be undertaken on all islands including the Funafuti community on Funafala. Several smoke fish training courses were conducted last year on Funafuti with positive results;
· Bottom and squid fishing trials will be undertaken. Several islands (Niulakita & Nukulaelae) have been selected as initial destinations, and depending on the outcome of the first few trials, extension to other islands are expected to follow;
· VHF land-based radios: To improve safety of fishermen, a VHF land-based radio installation will begin in 2018, covering all islands. Altogether there are 10 land stations, two on Funafuti and one for every other island. The two stations on Funafuti will be set at the new fisheries office and at the Fishermen of Funafuti Association (FOFA) office;
· Awareness programs (Radio, workshop etc.) will be conducted where and when needed to improve understanding of the public and fishermen. Some of the topics to be covered will include sea safety, fish handling, fish spoilage & preservation, small business, fish aggregating devices (FADs) and FAD fishing, and Marine pollution;
· Vessel maintenance: Short and rapid maintenance (at least 3 days) will be conducted on an opportunistic basis, particularly for the Tala Moana. This maintenance is important for the safe operation of the vessel;
. FAD deployment was to have occurred last year, but was delayed due to equipment being broken. With new equipment now ordered, deployment is forecast to happen this year and all islands will receive at least one FAD during the year;
. CFC Training Centres were due for completion in 2017 but some technical issues with the building design caused the tender process to be terminated. Construction therefore is set to start next year when everything (design, cargo list, constructors finalized etc.) are ready;
. Canoe building: Several paddle canoes will be constructed and delivered to all islands as part of the NAPA II Project. Made from imported wooden materials, the new canoes will result in a reduced independence by local trees for canoe building;
. Purse seine crewing: O&D will follow up on this and will ensure that those who have trained get placement on Purse seiners; and
. The new Manaui II: The request by the fisheries department for a replacement vessel to replace the Manaui, now 29 years old, was approved by the Japanese Government last year. Therefore several missions by Japanese officials are expected in 2018 to progress work on the new Manaui.