The Solomon Islands National Council of Women (NCW), with other stakeholders, met yesterday to discuss the exploitation of young girls by foreign fishing ships.

The general secretary for NCW, Ms. Ella Kauhue, opened the meeting with one key message, there is a problem and it needs to be addressed.

"We all know that these activities are going, it is a growing problem and it does have a lot to do with poverty," said. Ms. Kauhue.

The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Women Youth and Children affairs, Mrs. Ethel Sigimanu, stated that all stakeholders need to work closely together.

"It is important that we put our heads together to actively and effectively address these issues...this is only the only tip of the iceberg," said Ms. Sigimanu.

Earlier, the NCW also took time to meet with the Ports Authority. The legal advisors for the Ports Authority, Mr Ishmael Kako, and the chief security of Ports, Mr. Patterson Ashley, were present to answer questions.

When asked why these girls were allowed to enter the boats, Mr. Ashley said that while they have put concerted efforts to stop local girls from boarding the boats, locals often provide transport for these girls to the vessels.

"The problem is the law itself...we do not have any specific law against prostitution, one that says that it is an illegal practice," added the legal advisor to Ports, Mr. Kako.