Minister for Fisheries and Forestry, Hon. Kalaveti Vodo Ravu's Response to His Excellency The President’s Opening Adress on the Opening Of Parliament 2023
Mr. Speaker Sir, I rise to respond to His Excellency’s most gracious speech delivered in this August House to mark the opening of the new parliament under the People’s Coalition Government.
- fish provide an important food source for Fiji’s population;
- mitigate the effects of natural disasters including the effects of climate change; and
- The interconnectivity of fishing, aquaculture and tourism is an economic driver that generates revenue for Fiji’s economy
This being said, and as clearly articulated in His Excellency’s address, the diversification of our resource based sectors, to strengthen the growth of our economy, increase the “size of our pie” and furthermore increase our potential to trade, is a change that this Government will give rise to, as we start afresh.
For this, Mr. Speaker Sir, we cannot and must not remain complacent, in the face of more challenges ahead of us, we must continue to seize every opportunity we have to grow our economy.
At this point Sir, I would like to speak briefly on areas that the Ministry of Fisheries will focus on and strengthen, to growing our resource-based sector.
Mr. Speaker Sir, in the context of regional fisheries, our tuna resources are key drivers of our small island economies and have always provided a solid revenue and economic base for Pacific Island Countries (PICs).
The development and implementation of international and regional fisheries management framework have ensured we as PICs manage and use our tuna resources sustainably and also ensure that our fish stocks remain healthy and viable.
Your Coalition Government values its development partners and stakeholders in driving targeted investments within the domestic fishing industry. This includes upgrading the fishing vessels to fish in the high seas, invest in satellite technology to monitor our Exclusive Economic zone (EEZ) and reposition our investment and loan policing capacity.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the value of coastal fisheries to our nation is understated. The production from this fishery offers extensive benefits to our communities, including employment and nutrition, as well as social and recreational values.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the well-being of all Fijians is the ultimate priority for the Coalition Government. The Ministry is working to provide alternatives for an ever-increasing population. It will review current capital projects and engagement with other government agencies to empower communities to benefit economically and socially.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Ministry will continue to collaborate with development partners to strengthen investment in the culture of high valued commodities to boost the fisheries sector.
The Ministry of Fisheries will refocus its current objectives of developing seaweed, edible oysters, pearl oysters, mabe pearls and giant clams to ensure these commodities reach their optimum levels of production to meet consumers’ demand.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Ministry in partnership with the private sector will work on mass production of selected species in communities and work to identifying high end markets for these commodities.
Mister Speaker Sir, as stated in His Excellency’s most gracious speech, the new efforts that will be directed to revitalising the co-operative movement, is welcomed. This is aligned to the Ministry’s work in establishing Fishermen Cooperatives to foster greater participation by resource owners and to empower them in elevating and expanding their fishing businesses.
Your Peoples’ Coalition Government will be steadfast in its efforts to ensure Fijians are food secure and have their needs provided for.
Mister Speaker Sir, the Ministry will review the scope of assistance to Food Security and Commercial Aquaculture Development programs to focus on large scale communal co-operative assistance.
We will aggressively work with farmers to assess their production as this will be a critical time for aquaculture in Fiji.
As a result, Mr. Speaker Sir, this strategy will produce and supply the maximum number of Tilapia fry’s and Shrimp post-larvae to encourage large scale intensive farming, as well as to support small scale aquaculture Fijian farmers.
The intensifying impact of climate change on our oceans, for instance, is compelling us to review our approaches to managing our oceans and our fisheries resources.
Mr. Speaker Sir, manpower and financial support have always played an important role in sustainable fisheries and forestry management.
If we are to ensure progress, we must invest in our workforce and identify appropriate funding to support their work. Your coalition Government through internal and external partners, will address these needs immediately.
Mr. Speaker Sir, we all share the benefits of our fisheries and forestry resources. We are honored to have inherited these blessings from our forefathers who have protected these resources for us.
It is our time now to do the same. We must change the narrative.
Mr. Speaker Sir, it is my prayer that we will exercise wisdom in every front of our deliberation in this august house, to guarantee progress for the present and future generations.
I would like to end by stating the last line from the poem “Invictus” and I quote “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”, unquote. We all have a part to play in steering this ship of change.
May God Bless You, and May God Bless Fiji
Mr. Speaker Sir, Vinaka vakalevu, and thank you.