IFC backs Solomon Islands fishery

The $10m loan will support National Fisheries Developments’ addition of a new vessel as part of ongoing efforts to increase employment in the South Pacific nation of 635,000 people.

tuna boat

The $10m loan will support National Fisheries Developments’ addition of a new vessel as part of ongoing efforts to increase employment in the South Pacific nation of 635,000 people.

The International Finance Corporation has provided a $10 million loan to National Fisheries Developments of Solomon Islands, the World Bank affiliate announced earlier this month.

The loan is being offered as part of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program Private Sector Window, an initiative the IFC oversees designed to enhance commercial prospects of small- and medium-sized agribusinesses and farmers in the developing world.

The capital will be used to purchase a new fishing vessel and support maintenance of NFD’s existing fleet, according to the statement.

“Expansion of NFD’s fleet will increase our capacity substantially and enable us to create more jobs, directly in fishing, shore handling, provision of supplies and services, and indirectly in tuna processing,” NFD general manager Frank Wickham said.

IFC disclosures related to the project reveal that plans also call for the addition of three used large purse seiners, vessels that catch schools of fish in large nets.

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, recent years have seen considerable change in the makeup of fishing vessels in the Solomon Islands. The FAO wrote that challenging sashimi market conditions have led to a decline in the number of longliners, ships that catch fish along a line with bated hooks, while good harvests and tuna market strength have encouraged an increase in the number of purse seine vessels.

There are 693 purse seine vessels currently in operation and the method accounts for about 63 percent of global tuna fishing, according to the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation.

“Each new purse seiner is estimated to provide an additional 8,000 megatons per year for an annual total 24,000 megatons,” the IFC wrote in a project description. “This will increase purse seine capacity by approximately 70 percent.”

The institution highlighted the employment challenge in Solomon Islands, which it said has a 30 percent national unemployment rate.

Vessels purchased with IFC support are expected to create 30 new jobs directly at NFD and an additional 200 jobs at SolTuna, a NFD processing subsidiary that the IFC supported with a $9 million loan in 2013. Of the jobs created at SolTuna, 130 will be designated for female employees, according to the disclosure.

Almost 20 percent of Solomon Islands’ GDP comes from the tuna industry, the IFC said, with NFD accounting for a quarter of commercially caught tuna in the country. According to an NFD statement issued in February on the purchase of a used purse seiner, about 70 percent of SolTuna’s tuna production is exported to the European Union, with the remainder consumed domestically.