FIJI - The contribution of the fishing and aquaculture industries to Fiji's gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to increase over the next three years.
The Ministry of Finance noted an increase in these industries from a provisional figure of $114.5million in 2013 to a $118.8m forecast for this year.
The ministry also forecast an increase to $120.6m for 2016 and $122.5m in 2017. An increase to $124.4m was also noted for 2018, reports the FijiTimes.
For formal non-government fishing and aquaculture, the ministry said, forecast this year was $72.2m, $73.8m in 2016, $75.5m in 2017 and $77.2m in 2018.
In the 2016 National Budget, the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests is funded at $26.3m, an increase of $2.27m.
A budget of $0.2 million is provided to complete the Makogai Mariculture Centre Development project and $0.6 million has been allocated for the construction of the Rotuma ice plant-Phase 2.
In the 2016 Budget Supplement, the ministry noted these projects sought to guarantee food security and empower communities to manage and benefit from their marine resources.
In addition, the ministry added that $0.4m has been allocated for the upgrading of fisheries offices and staff quarters.
"The purpose of this project is to construct and refurbish existing fisheries institutional infrastructures in the divisions including offices, stations, department quarters, institutional infrastructure (hatcheries and ice plants) and rural fisheries centres," the budget supplement noted.
To facilitate and enhance the development of the thriving Fiji pearl farming industry, a sum of $0.2m has been allocated in the 2016 Budget for the pearl oyster research and development project.
This project, the ministry said, aimed to provide technical training and advisory support to local and indigenous pearl farmers to enhance their participation.
"Other major fisheries programs budgeted for this year include: $0.7m for the establishment of multi-species hatchery (Ra); $0.1m for the biodiversity enhancement — Ridge to Reef, $0.5m for the coastal fisheries development program; $0.2m for the aquaculture development; $0.3m for the brackishwater development; $0.2m for the seaweed development; and $0.5m for the food security program.
The Department of Fisheries is also working towards the production of a commodity development plan, which will provide targets in the medium to long term.
It has five functional activities: offshore fisheries management, research and development, aquaculture, extension and advisory services, and fleet technical services.
These five functions are organised into its four operation centres — Central, Eastern, Western and Northern divisions.
The Reserve Bank of Fiji noted forestry and fishing among agriculture, mining and quarrying; electricity and water; construction; wholesale and retail & restaurants and hotels; transport, storage and communication and finance, insurance, real estate and business services sectors to have improvements in labour market condition.
This means vacancies advertised were relatively higher over the year for those sectors.
On import, the Fiji Bureau of Statistics noted a decrease in fresh fish import from the People's Republic of China.
TheFishSite News Desk