A workshop, “Forecasting Managing Fishing Revenues,” opened in Majuro on Monday. In his opening remarks RMI Minister of Finance Brenson Wase welcomed the group of 49 participants and stressed the importance and timeliness of the workshop.
Wase pointed out that as fishing revenue has increased dramatically over the past ten years and with the Compact grant funding agreement due to run out in five years, increased collaboration of the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA), Ministry of Finance and the Economic Policy, Planning and Statistics Office (EPPSO) are imperative for optimizing medium-term budgeting and investment framework. He noted that, while there is a trust fund that the RMI will use when the Compact funding agreement expires, this will need to be augmented with other funds, which include in a big way, fisheries.
Richard Neves and Iris Claus from the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Center (PFTAC) of the International Monetary Fund are facilitating the workshop. Neves delineated the goals and objectives of the meeting, which include strengthening collaboration between banks and financial offices with their country’s national fisheries authorities as a way to forecast budgets and cash management. The meeting, which runs through Friday, is an opportunity to increase capacity in budget planning, to support peer learning and encourage professional networks.
During the Monday session, representatives from each of ten countries gave brief presentations, providing fishery related facts and figures including how much of their GDP is attributed to their fisheries. Nine of the ten countries noted steep climbs in fishing revenue since 2011. They all agreed this influx of income is attributed to the vessel day scheme (VDS) used by the eight country members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) plus Tokelau. (Tokelau has a special arrangement with PNA as it cannot be a full member because it is not an independent country but it participates in the VDS.) Fishing revenue for the eight PNA nations and Tokelau has increased from $60 million annually to $450 million a year in the last decade due to the VDS.
The Cook Islands is the only participating country that is not a PNA member and its data showed less dramatic fisheries revenue growth. One reason pointed out is that the Cook Islands have passed legislation making commercial fishing within 50 miles of their islands illegal.
Each nation is unique: some have transshipment ports and some have processing plants. Others don’t have the infrastructure to support these ventures but all have significant exclusive economic zones (EEZs) teeming with tuna, a resource that is becoming increasingly important to these small island nations.
Workshop participants include representatives of ministries of finance, fishing agencies, statistics offices, and central banks from FSM, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, RMI, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Cook Islands and Tokelau.
Read more about this in the February 9, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.