Kiribati receives aquaculture training from China while opening protected area to commercial fishing

China has sent experts to the Pacific island nation of Kiribati to conduct training in commercial aquaculture.

The Chinese province of Hubei has sent experts to the Pacific island nation of Kiribati to conduct training in commercial aquaculture.

An agricultural and fishery technical assistance project in Kiribati has been undertaken by the Chinese Department of Agriculture’s provincial office in Hubei, a leading producer of freshwater crayfish.

“Since its implementation in October 2020, the project has won unanimous praise,” the ministry said in a statement.

Hubei’s delivery of training to Kiribati comes at a time of controversy in the Pacific over the nation’s decision to open the Phoenix Island Protected Area to commercial fishing, despite an earlier commitment to establish the marine reserve to protect spawning grounds for tuna. A nation of 100,000 inhabitants formerly ruled by Britain, Kiribati earns around 80 percent of its revenue from fees charged to tuna companies for accessing its 3.5 million-square-kilometer exclusive economic zone. The Kiribati government said the move was made after it received less money than expected for the marine protected area’s endowment fund and experienced declining demand for its fishing permits, costing the country millions of dollars in revenue.

Kiribati Fisheries Minister Ribanataake Tiwau was one of the speakers at the first China-Pacific Island Countries Forum on Fisheries Cooperation and Development in October 2021. With the theme of “Opening up a New Prospect for Fisheries Cooperation between China and Pacific Island Countries,” the forum was one of the outcomes of the first China-Pacific Island Countries Foreign Ministers' Meeting. The Guangzhou Consensus – a document largely pre-written by Chinese officials and presented to attendees of the forum – committed China to “advancing concrete cooperation in all fields of the fishery sector, jointly promoting sustainable fisheries, and making greater contributions to reviving the economies of Pacific island nations.”

In his speech at the event, Tiwau said he wanted to see the benefits of the cooperation channeled to the Kiribati people, raising their standard of living “to a better and brighter future.”

Among the Chinese fishing firms operating in Kiribati is Zhoushan-based tuna processor and seafood distributor Ocean Family, which signed an agreement with Kiribati to develop a fishing base to include processing and aquaculture facilities in 2018.

Photo courtesy of emperorcosar/Shutterstock


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