The National Fisheries Development (NFD) General Manager Adrian Wickham has signed a long liner licensing agreement with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources.

Fisheries consultant Anouk Ride reports that under the agreement Tri Marine's NFD Limited has been granted 50 longline licenses in support of Soltai's processing requirements.

Soltai and NFD currently employ well over 1,000 Solomon Islanders.

The new licensing policy will allow Soltai to add a second shift to its processing operations resulting in approximately 500 new jobs, and significantly increase its exports of processed fish - a boost in government revenue.

The signing follows new measures designed to further promote its participation in the tuna industry and to stimulate its growing economy, the Government has changed its policy for issuance of longline fishing licenses.

Licenses will now be limited with priority allocation to companies investing in the Solomon Islands.

Terms of the licenses require that fish caught in the Solomon Islands EEZ should be unloaded and processed in Solomon Islands thereby increasing employment through processing and handling of the fish.

Fish landed in Solomon Islands will be exported thereby substantially increasing the country's foreign exchange earnings and improving its balance of payments.

The new licensing policy also allows for boats to unload their Solomon Islands catch outside of Solomon Islands in 2012, subject to payment by the fishing boat in the form of a penalty.