Fishery showcase: Solomon Islands

IPNLF explores the history of the Solomon Islands one-by-one tuna fishery and its contribution to the local community

The Solomon Islands archipelago is characterised by the ocean that surrounds it. Based in the western South Pacific Ocean, this collection of over 900 islands boasts an impressive exclusive economic zone of approximately 1,600,000 km2. Its marine environment supports a diverse ecosystem of tropical species and is home to an important pole-and-line tuna fishery.

The Solomon Islands commercial pole-and-line tuna fishery was established over 40 years ago, following a joint venture between the Solomon Islands government and a Japanese seafood company, Taiyo A & F Co. The vessels were originally crewed by Japanese fishers, but over the years ownership of the fleet changed hands and now the vessels are proudly crewed by over 100 Solomon Islanders. IPNLF Member Tri Marine became involved in the fishery in 2010, after acquiring a majority shareholding in Solomon Islands’ tuna processing facility, SolTuna Limited and transferring the management of two modern Japanese-built pole-and-line vessels to its Solomon Islands fishing company, National Fisheries Developments Ltd. Since then, it has added two further vessels to the fleet.

Today, the fishery catches approximately 2,000 metric tons of pole-and-line skipjack and yellowfin tuna per year. The catch is unloaded and processed locally in the Solomon Islands, by SolTuna in Noro, Western Province.

SolTuna produces canned tuna, frozen cooked tuna loins, fishmeal and oil. The locally-managed processing facility employs around 1,800 Solomon Islanders, out of which around 64% are women, making it one of the country’s largest employers.

Local development programmes provide crew with opportunities to upgrade qualifications and take on more responsibility and higher rankings, building local capacity through the fishery.

SolTuna brands dominate the canned tuna market in the Solomon Islands and are an important contributor to the country’s food security. In recognition of its sustainable fishing practice, the fishery achieved Marine Stewardship Council certification in 2016. National Fisheries Developments Ltd. is also in the final stages of obtaining Fair Trade USA certification. Certified products are predominantly exported to Europe.

Not only is the Solomon Islands one-by-one tuna fishery an example of an ecologically sustainable fishery, it is also a demonstration of the social benefits that can be gained through local employment and professional and economic development. IPNLF is delighted to partner with Tri Marine, and to strengthen its connection to the fishery and the fishing community.