Japan on Tuesday handed over a 5-ton pole-and-line vessel to the Bureau of Fisheries of the Government of Palau.

 The vessel, named Bofi Maru was courtesy of the Japan’s Grassroots Grant Project (GGP) with  President Surangel S. Whipps Jr., Ambassador KARASAWA Akira, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Environment Steven Victor, President of Belau Offshore Fishers Incorporated (BOFI) Okada Techitong and many guests attended the ceremony.

Ambassador Karasawa said the project is the biggest grassroots grant project totaling USD769,118.

“If I am correct, this is a first-ever pole and line vessel operated by Palau.  I understand that vessel will be used, managed, and maintained by BOFI in cooperation with governmental Minister,” Karasawa said. 

According to the Japan Embassy, the vessel will aid in the increase of pelagic fish catches for domestic consumption in a sustainable manner and enhance the livelihood of fishermen.

The embassy said the project had involved various organizations in providing technical support from Japan, including the fishermen of Okinawa. Overseas Fisheries Cooperation Foundation of Japan provided fishing gear, including a bait catcher.

The cooperative members will be invited to Okinawa this summer to learn the pole-and-line technique. 

ICA will also dispatch experts to improve cold chain and value chain of fish caught by this pole-and-line vessel in their blue economy technical cooperation project.

Ambassador Karasawa said  Japan would continue to support Palau in developing its offshore fisheries based on longstanding friendship.  

“Japan will remain committed to promoting its measures towards realizing the blue economy by building on its past cooperation with Palau and our other partners and stakeholders in the private sector,” he said. 

President Whipps thanked Japan for the boat and its continued partnership and looks forward to how vessel can help the domestic fishing industry. 

“So we’re looking forward to the days that these boats will be coming in with lots of catch. And, you know, that’s our goal, like I said, to diversify the economy, but most importantly, so that it helps us in food security, but also helps the local people build and participate in the fishing industry,” Whipps said.

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