Prime Minister Hon. James Marape recently engaged in bilateral discussions with Palau President H.E. Surangel Whipps and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare on the sidelines of the XVII Pacific Games in Honiara.
Upon returning from Honiara, where he attended the opening ceremony on Sunday, November 19, 2023, Prime Minister Marape highlighted the central focus of the talks – the strategic development of the fisheries sector.
Prime Minister Marape expressed optimism about the Pacific region emerging as a significant force in global fisheries, presenting a united front against illegal activities and promoting sustainable practices.
“In our conversations, we concentrated primarily on the area of fisheries,” stated Prime Minister Marape.
“I firmly believe that our economic prominence lies in the fisheries sector.”
Addressing the critical importance of the Pacific region in global tuna supply, he emphasised, “When you put together Palau, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Kiribati, and Papua New Guinea – that’s 60 per cent of the world’s yellowfin tuna supply.”
Commending Fisheries Minister Hon. Jelta Wong, Prime Minister Marape acknowledged the role played by Papua New Guinea in fostering growth in Pacific fisheries. “Minister Wong has received accolades from both Palau and Solomon Islands for his significant contribution to the development of fisheries in the Pacific,” he added.
Expressing the commitment to fortify the sub-region’s fisheries, Prime Minister Marape mentioned, “We have the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) in Madang, and other areas, where we can bring the catch of the region onshore and process for export overseas. Our goal is to eliminate illegal fishing in our waters and form a super-bloc that controls tuna fisheries in this part of the world.”
Prime Minister Marape underscored the shared responsibility of Pacific countries in safeguarding the region’s marine resources and emphasised their collective stance against deep-sea mining. “We envision the Pacific region as a major producer of tuna and other marine resources,” he said.
As part of the broader strategy, he outlined, “We want to produce for both domestic consumption as well as supply to the big Asian market, Europe, and North America. Our aim is to unite Western Pacific nations as a powerful bloc to assert control over our fisheries resources, particularly tuna, in the first instance.”