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The Pacific boasts the largest and deepest expanse of the world’s ocean, and has been feeding the world’s tuna appetite for decades. Almost 60 percent of the world’s tuna catch – 2.5 million out of 4.2 million tonnes – is from the central and western Pacific Ocean.
For many small island states like Solomon Islands, hopes for future prosperity are pinned to tuna, but three-quarters of the catch is now taken by foreign boats under licensing agreements and processed in other countries.
That’s why IFC has just agreed to lend $10 million to SolTuna Ltd., a tuna processor in Solomon Islands, to help the nation retain a greater share of its tuna revenues. The loan is IFC’s first investment in a wild-catch fishery in 15 years. SolTuna will use the funds to undertake a $27 million upgrade and expansion of its facility in Noro, which is expected to increase its processing capacity to 150 tonnes a day from 90 tonnes a day. This will not only increase the plant’s yield, but allow SolTuna to process to a higher quality, securing more income from their exports.
“A sustainably managed fishing industry will create more jobs, more food, and much-needed tax revenues for Solomon Islands, a country where almost one in four people live in poverty,” says Vipul Prakash, IFC’s director for manufacturing, agribusiness and services in Asia Pacific.
According to fisheries experts, Pacific oceans have now reached their maximum yield potential and some tuna species are in decline. Environmental groups, including WWF and Greenpeace, have been campaigning to raise awareness about declining fish numbers and to stop unsustainable practices that have been depleting tuna stocks, including illegal fishing and overfishing.
IFC’s Pacific Islands Tuna Sector Advisory Program aims to address these concerns and help the island nations benefit more from their tuna fisheries while helping them adopt sustainable fishing practices to better manage their precious resource. The program will link up the public and private sectors and ensure that fisheries investments are environmentally and economically sustainable.
Solomon Islands is the focus for the first phase of the program, which will be extended to other Pacific States in the future. With IFC’s financing, SolTuna, which has 1,500 staff now – two-thirds of whom are women, expects to add 500 jobs over the next five years.
With IFC’s help, Pacific nations will soon begin to benefit more from the $4.5 billion a year fishing industry, which will create jobs and boost incomes for their people.
Read more about how IFC and SolTuna are helping Solomon Islands retain more tuna revenue and create jobs.