A prominent Solomon Islander, Baoro Laxton Koraua says the government should consider lifting the ban on bechdemer.

Speaking from his home village in Wagina, Koraua says the government should also look at other alternatives to boost the country’s economy.

Koraua, who was in his home village Nikumaroro for a short stay, says the people of Wagina rely heavily on seaweed and other marine resources for their livelihood.

“As we see the decline in logging as well as our exports, we need to look at other alternatives in export. One of them is seaweed and maybe the government should also think about opening the bechdemer for a short time”.

Koraua says the government needs to replace the decline in logging and tourism revenue.

“Here is one community that contributes 99 percent of the seaweed export. For seaweed there is already a market for it as well as bechdemer”, he says.

He says it is excellent the government prioritizes agriculture for food sustainability.

“But we need to look beyond that”, Koraua says.

He says during the COVID-19 pandemic, the government must seriously look at the alternatives available.

“The sooner we look at the alternatives the better. The communities here on Wagina can be significant participants”, Koraua says.

A ban on the harvesting of bechdemer was imposed by the government in November 2019. This is due to over-exploitation of this resource.

The bechdemer fishery is a multi-million-dollar industry in the Solomon Islands. It provides an important source of income for rural communities, and foreign exchange revenue for the country.

The total export value at over SBD$33 million for 2013 was the highest ever recorded for Solomon Islands.

Increasing market demand in China has increased product prices in recent years.

Solomon Islands is the third largest exporter into China.

For the timber industry, two milling companies are letting 350 employees go.

PIFS Pacific Trade Commissioner to China, Teremoana Mato says the employees being laid off are not just employees.

“When you put it into perspective it is 350 families that would be affected”.

The CBSI 2019 annual report says sectors that are expected to drive the fall in growth are forestry, tourism, transport, manufacturing, education and government services.

The report says fisheries and palm oil, as intermediate goods for final food products are projected to have the least negative impact, as their production would remain uninterrupted unless the pandemic were to affect workers at their respective sites.