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LESSONS:

Fisheries Development Project

sector: Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development | country: Micronesia, Federated States of | region: Pacific Islands

A project designed to be commercial and ‘private sector’ in nature must be allowed to be truly commercial and not be constrained by excessive bureaucracy, government monopolies, and requirements to use particular government services (such as transshipping and airfreight management). In this instance, the lack of vertical integration in fishing, handling,transport, and marketing is a constraint on possible commercial success for Micronesia Longline Fishing Corporation (MLFC). Duplication of activity that reduces efficiency, such as the operation of fishing fleets by both MLFC (privatesector) and National Fisheries Corporation (public enterprise), must also be avoided. In this context, it is difficult tocomprehend how the project, in the design phase, could have been conceived as a pilot project.

ADB standard tendering requirements were more complex than desirable for many aspects of procurement for the project. It is imperative for a private sector fishing company, whose primary objective is to keep the vessels out at sea fishing, to be able to act fast when mechanical failures occur and be able to buy the necessary spare parts immediately. For the Commercial Fisheries Development component (Part A), this sometimes caused considerable downtime of the vessels while Micronesia Longline Fishing Corporation (MLFC) was going through ADB’s procurement guidelines.

In Project Design, the realities – financial, physical, and geopolitical issues – must be clearly understood. In the case of this project, the presence of fish stocks does not necessarily mean that a viable commercial fishery can be developed. Conversely, however, fisheries projects will not always fail if they are appropriately designed in the context of a clear understanding of the situation confronted (such as reliability of airfreight). Where the project involves a commercial component, a careful analysis of the public policy setting and enabling environment will provide important guidance on the likelihood of success. Agreement to support a project such as this could then be predicated on governments, particularly state governments, making certain policy, regulatory, and legislative changes.

The project was subject to a major design change: the replacement of new vessels with the purchase of secondhand vessels. For this, the Commercial Fisheries Development component (Part A) of the project should have beentemporarily suspended and a full review undertaken so that the likely outcomes of such a change could be fully understood.

The selection of consultants without Pacific experience, along with consultants who did not have appropriate technical skills, led to unsatisfactory and/or incomplete outcomes.

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