Fiji’s minister of fisheries in Beijing seeking aquaculture assistance
Fiji Minister of Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau is in Beijing this week seeking assistance from China to develop aquaculture and fisheries processing facilities in the South Pacific island nation.
Koroilavesau met with his China Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Han Changfu, whose ministry also oversees fisheries, who guaranteed “high-quality cooperation” in fisheries science and technology as well as training.
China and Fiji are “very complimentary” in fisheries, Han said, according to a statement from his office. Han pledged to “encourage Chinese companies to go to Fiji to invest and to build fishing ports and processing and cold-chain facilities."
"We want to help Fiji to develop the value-added side of the fishing industry,” he said.
Koroilavesau said Fiji “urgently” wants to acquire Chinese know-how and technology, “which is mature and proven,” to increase aquaculture production, according to a statement from Han’s office.
Developing aquaculture has been a stated priority for Koroilavesau’s department, which has also sought to harness solar power to improve the country’s cold-chain facilities to aid its fishing communities.
The Beijing visit follows a meeting last November between Koroilavesau and China’s ambassador to Fiji, where a “fishery cooperation memorandum of understanding” was signed between the two countries. Fiji is keen for Chinese assistance, “especially in the aquaculture sector,” according to a statement released by Koroilavesau’s office following the November meeting. In exchange for fishing access to Fijian waters, China will share expertise in fishery equipment and systems in a “very extensive” and “very principled” agreement, said the ambassador, Qian Bo during the signing ceremony.
During a 2017 visit to Fiji, China’s top fisheries official Yu Kangzhen, a vice minister reporting to Han Changfu, promised major investments in processing and training in return for fishing access. Yu promised China would create employment locally in processing, warehousing, and research facilities.
Much concern has been raised in the region – particularly in Australia and New Zealand – over the long-term implications of China’s growing presence in Fiji. But during his 2017 visit, Yu promised that Chinese fishing companies would adopt a “sustainable approach” to fisheries in Fiji.
One of the largest Chinese players operating in Fiji is Shandong Li Dao Science and Technology Co. (also known as Lidao Oceanic Technology Co. Ltd.). The company has partnered with Fortune Timber Co. to build the China-Fiji Fishery Industry Comprehensive Industry Park, according to a document from the provincial office of the National Development and Reform Commission of the People's Republic of China, the key planning agency of the Chinese government.
Photo courtesy of Fiji Minister of Fisheries