21 Nov 2005

New Zealand to assist Solomon Islands department of fisheries

4:42 pm on 21 November 2005

An assessment is underway in Solomon Islands of the Department of Fisheries with a view to restructuring the way it operates.

This follows a critical report from the Auditor General's office which estimates that millions of dollars was lost from fisheries revenue during the ethnic tension and its aftermath.

The report stated that there was no accounting for the way fishing licenses were handled, little control in terms of revenue and a complete lack of accountability for where funds ended up, with some going into officials' pockets.

The New Zealand High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Brian Sanders, says a consultant is working with the department to establish what areas it needs to be involved in.

"One of the first things to do is to identify what the department should be doing. The department's been involved in a very wide range of activities over many years. Now, it's trying to work out what precisely is important for the stakeholders."

Mr Sanders says the stakeholders, including those involved in the fishing, processing and management of the sector, are all being consulted about the future directions the department should take.