There were more than two hundred guest at the opening ceremony of the Tuvalu Fisheries Department’s (TFD) new office building, including the guest of honour, Mr Matt Howell from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT), the Governor General, Prime Minister and Ministers of respected ministries within the Government of Tuvalu. Also present were TFD fisheries partners including, SAJO industries Co. Ltd., Shilla fishing company, Dongwon Industries, RD Corporation, CKP, Hansung Enterprise Co., Ltd., the manager of the Overseas Fisheries Corporation Foundation OFCF, Tuvalu island leaders and retired staff of the TFD. The opening ceremony was hosted by the Minister of Natural Resources, Dr Puakena Boreham. The opening ceremony program was started at 10am in the morning at Teone, in a tent on the ocean side of the new office building.
The ceremony started with speeches from the Honourable Minister of Natural Resources and the Director of Fisheries. The Director of Fisheries mentioned in his speech “how important the new building is to the Fisheries department, as the scatter of fisheries officers among six separate offices prevented effective communications and personnel management”. He also thanked the New Zealand Government, not forgetting the company who built the building, Timber Construction Solutions (TCS), for their assistance and support in the construction of the new fisheries operations centre which is finally now in shape.
All invited guests took a tour of the new building after it been blessed and the ribbon cut. The Honourable Sir Iakopa Taeia Italeli, Governor General and Mr Howell of MFAT cut the ribbon of the new Fisheries Operations Centre.
The program continued with feasting prepared by the Nanumaga community and TFD staffs which are sea foods. There were also entertainment from young local dancers and fatele (Tuvalu local dance) from the Nukufetau island community. Local gift were presented to invited guest (foreigners) during the fatele. The program ended with a closing speech from the Ministry of Natural Resources Permanent Secretary, Mr Niko Apinelu.
The new Fisheries Operations Centre is part of TFD’s objectives planned over the past four years. Assistance was provided by the Fisheries Technical Advisor, and Inshore Fisheries Advisers who were also funded by MFAT. Originally the new building was to be completed by the end of 2015 but due to unexpected delays was not completed till December 2017. The new facility includes not only office space but also a conference room, vessel monitoring system (VMS) room, dive bay, wet and dry lab, and a storage/ work area for FAD construction and practical training courses.
The new TFD building was funded by the New Zealand Government, with IT equipment procured using World Bank funds as part of the Pacific Regional Oceanscape Programme (PROP) and office furniture co-funded by MFAT and the Government of Tuvalu.