Regardless of the current covid-19 impacts on the country at large, fishing communities in Russell Islands in Central Islands Province have moved another step ahead with their intention to develop and advance fisheries as source of revenue earner for their people.
The Russell Islands Fisheries Association or RIFA for short was formally established with the signing of a mandatory document on Sunday 19 July at Louna village in a joint partnership with Savo-Russell constituency, the Central Islands Provincial Government and the Russell Islands Investment Forum (RIIF).
The joint partnership document was signed by the Member of Parliament for the constituency Hon, Dickson Mua, Premier Stanley Manetiva and nine representatives of the Russell Islands Fisheries Association witnessed by senior National and Provincial Government Officials.
The formal establishment of RIFA was made following the signing of an earlier memorandum of understanding between the Savo Russell Constituency, Russell Islands Investment Forum (RIIF) and the Central Islands Provincial Government on 20 April 2020.
The MOU in April has obligated the Russell Island Investment Forum (RIFF) and Savo-Russell Constituency to facilitate the formation and establishment of Village Fisheries Committees, and to support and facilitate the formation of the ‘Russell Islands Fisheries Association’ (RIFA).
The purpose of this mandate is to recognize the Village Fisheries Committees and formalize the establishment of the ‘Russell Islands Fisheries Association’.
On May 2020, nine fishing communities throughout the Russell Islands met and agreed to establish individual village fisheries committees to assist distinctive communities to organize and create a network of fishers in Russell Islands.
The Association is established to pursue the management of fisheries resources in Russell Islands and to develop its sustainable use for the benefit of current and future generations.
The Association has been tasked to develop a Russell Islands fisheries management and development program together with its guiding principles and general code of conduct of its fisheries network.
The Central Islands Provincial Government Fisheries Division will assist the Interim Executive in the registration process to develop a constitution and operating financial bank details.
An Interim Executive is appointed on Sunday 19 July at Louna Village and is to remain until the Association is registered within the next three months and will remain in office during the first tenure of the Association.
The RIPEL Cabinet Sub Committee in the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is supporting the initial stages towards the formation of RIFA in terms of administrative and advisory assistance.
Speaking at the ceremony on Sunday, Hon. Dickson Mua has congratulated the fishing communities for their hard work to establish RIFA by moving another step ahead in advancing their interest in developing their fisheries resources.
“Moving together like what we have witnessed now is very encouraging, especially, as we prepare ourselves to respond to the tough times ahead for our country,” Mr Mua said.
In his remarks, Premier Stanley Manetiva assured the Association and its members that the Provincial Government is committed to support the RIFA to achieve its intentions.
“I wish to congratulate you for your efforts by reaching this far and be assured that your Provincial Government under my leadership is committed to support your noble aspirations to develop and manage our fisheries resources,” Premier Manetiva said.
Russell Islands has hundreds of untouched rich inshore fishing grounds and RIFA is aiming to develop and manage those for its current and future generations.