The launching of the K105 million (US$29.9 million) Voco Point Coastal Fisheries Hub marks the beginning of a major impact project for artisanal fishermen and women in the maritime districts of Morobe and neighbouring coastal provinces.

The hub will consist of a waterfront facility for landing and unloading and sale of fresh fish, a facility for processing and distribution of frozen fish and other marine products and a regional office complex for the National Fisheries Authority (NFA).

Having the vision to develop enabling infrastructures and improve the operating environment to optimize the participation of locals, NFA is ready to start the commencement of this major project in the next three months.

The project was launched by Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources Dr Tom Lino and Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu witnessed by Lae MP, John Rosso, NFA managing director John Kasu, representatives from the NFA board, staff, important stakeholders from the province, international development partners and the fishing co-operatives in the province in Lae last Friday.

Dr Lino said the aim of the hub is to provide better overall utilisation of fish catch, improve financial returns for fishers, support more efficient coordination of fish landings and enable fishers to return to fishing more quickly.

He said the hub also aims to support the distribution of fish to end markets, support better fish handing resulting in better quality fish and fish products and encourage fishers from other provinces, towns and villages to consign their fish into a central location.

“PNG marine and fisheries industries have a lot of potentials and for years has been making a lot of money but these monies do not directly go to benefit people especially those in the coastal communities and with NFA’s strategic plan we want to ensure that men and women in these communities must be involved, to benefit from such projects and most importantly for them to see the value of their resources,” Dr Lino said.

Kasu said the hub will take coastal fisheries development to another level because it aims to become a main commercial hub for fishing groups in the province including those in the other neighbouring provinces.

“It will create an enabling environment for our fishing co-operatives, SMEs to sell their catches and for buyers, retail shops, supermarkets, institutions and catering companies.

“Fish supply can be bought in here at the hub.”

Morobe leaders Ginson Saonu and John Rosso both commended NFA, the NFA staff, Fisheries minister Dr Lino and the government for the foresight and for ensuring that a major project is built for the people of Morobe after so many years.

Many fishermen have also made similar sentiments saying that for years such vital facilities have been missing.

Kasu said the invitation of tenders for the project will end by January or early February, with the selection of contracts in March and the commencement of the projection to begin in April or early May.

The project is an 18-month project and they anticipate the completion to be in October next year.