The World Bank’s Board of Directors has approved a new World Bank project that will aim to improve regional collaboration, national capacity and management, and longer-term sustainable development of the Islands’ vital fisheries sector. Solomon.
Building on the achievements of the first phase of the Pacific Islands Regional Oceanscape Project (PROP), the $13.5 million Pacific Islands Regional Oceanscape Program – Second Phase for Economic Resilience (PROPER) in the Solomon Islands will strengthen regional fisheries management to ensure ocean fish stocks are better protected from illegal fishing. The project will also support inshore fisheries through activities aimed at ensuring that Pacific fishers, their families and communities enjoy the sustainable benefits of the seafood sector in the future.
Work to be carried out under the new project will include the expansion of electronic monitoring and reporting on fishing vessels to improve 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 strengthen ocean and coastal fisheries management, improve investment planning so that ocean fisheries can better support the national economy, and develop local seafood value chains.
“Communities in the Solomon Islands are stewards of 1.6 million square kilometers of ocean; they are 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 work with the Solomon Islands to make this essential sector more sustainable so that the benefits of fishing continue to be seen for generations to come.”
Throughout the Pacific, ocean fisheries are essential for export earnings 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 began in 2014, has already led to better regional collaboration, better management and market linkages, and better regional understanding of ocean financing opportunities.
While ocean fisheries provide essential revenue to the state, coastal fisheries play a vital role in supporting jobs and livelihoods for communities in the Solomon Islands while ensuring food security, good nutrition and healthy diets in the remote areas. These fisheries depend on healthy ecosystems and habitats, but climate change, pressures from population growth and lack of management can put these vital resources at risk.
“Fisheries management is vital to the health of the Solomon Islands economy, as fisheries play a central role in the livelihoods and nutrition of many Solomon Islands people,” said Hon. Rex Ramofafia, Minister responsible for Finance and Treasury. “This role has been made much clearer during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people have returned to the provinces and their villages and fish stocks have had to act as a buffer during the crisis. This World Bank assistance is particularly timely given what we have just seen in how well-managed fisheries can support communities in the face of unforeseen shocks.”
The new aid comes as the World Bank announces a historic increase in its support for the Solomon Islands, with more than US$130 million spread over four projects expected to be approved throughout June. The other three projects include support to cope with economic shocks and pursue reforms, investments in aviation and roads, and support for infrastructure in rural areas.
These four new projects join a World Bank program in the Solomon Islands that has grown steadily over the past year. Current World Bank support to the Solomon Islands includes the Community Access and Urban Services Improvement (CAUSE) project, large-scale infrastructure such as the Tina River hydropower project, analysis and advisory support for the government, as well as funding for the COVID-19 response.