The World Bank's Board of Directors have approved a new World Bank project that will work to improve regional collaboration, national capacity and management, and the sustainable longer-term development of Solomon Islands' vital fisheries sector.
Building on the achievements of the first phase of the Pacific Islands Regional Oceanscape Project (PROP), the USD$13.5 million Pacific Islands Regional Oceanscape Program – Second Phase for Economic Resilience (PROPER) in Solomon Islands will strengthen regional fisheries management to ensure oceanic fish stocks are better protected from illegal fishing. The project will also support coastal fisheries through activities to ensure Pacific fishers, their families, and their communities see lasting benefits from the seafood sector into the future.
Work to be delivered through the new project will include the expansion of electronic monitoring and reporting on fishing vessels to improve the coverage, accuracy, transparency, and reporting within the sector. This vast improvement over traditional surveys, paper logbooks and observers estimating catches in person will also improve the safety and efficiency of Solomon Islands' fisheries observers. The project will further help to consolidate the management of oceanic and coastal fisheries, improve investment planning so oceanic fisheries can better support the national economy, and develop local seafood value chains.
"Solomon Islands communities are the custodians of 1.6 million square kilometers of ocean; home to an extraordinary abundance of thriving marine life, including valuable tuna stocks," said Annette Leith, World Bank Resident Representative in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. "We are pleased to be working with Solomon Islands to make this essential sector more sustainable so the benefits of fisheries will continue to be seen for generations to come."
Across the Pacific oceanic fisheries are essential for export revenue and national economic growth, and the Pacific region has long recognized the importance of managing and protecting these resources. The first phase of this project, which started in 2014, has already led to improved regional collaboration, better management and market linkages, and an improved regional understanding of ocean finance opportunities.
While oceanic fisheries provide critical state revenue - coastal fisheries play an essential role for jobs and livelihoods in communities across Solomon Islands while also ensuring food security, good nutrition and healthy diets in remote areas. These fisheries depend on healthy ecosystems and habitats but climate change, pressures from population growth and a lack of management can put these vital resources at risk.
"Fisheries management is vital for the health of Solomon Islands' economy as fisheries play a central role in the livelihoods and nutrition of many Solomon Islanders," said Hon. Rex Ramofafia, Supervising Minister for Finance and Treasury.
"This role was made much clearer during the COVID-19 pandemic as many people returned to the provinces and their villages and fish stocks had to act as a buffer through the crisis. This World Bank assistance is especially timely considering what we have just seen in how well managed fisheries can sustain communities through unforeseen shocks."
The new assistance comes as the World Bank announces an historic increase in its support to Solomon Islands, with over US$130 million over four projects expected to be approved throughout the month of June. The three other projects include support to meet economic shocks and continue reforms, investments in aviation and roads, and support for infrastructure in rural areas.
These four new projects add to a World Bank program in Solomon Islands that has already been steadily expanding over the past year. The World Bank's existing support to Solomon Islands includes the Community Access and Urban Service Enhancement (CAUSE) project, large scale infrastructure such as the Tina River Hydropower project, analysis and advisory support for government, as well as funding for COVID-19 response.
Source: World Bank