The Tuvalu Fisheries Department currently has two vessels for carrying out its activities within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and outer islands. These are the 18m RV Manaui and 32m RV Tala Moana. The vessels are used for deploying fish aggregating devices (FADs), visiting outer islands for monitoring and consultations, transporting equipment and as a staging platform for research. They are also available for charter by third parties and for charters. The Tala Moana was procured through the UNDP NAPA2 Project in December 2015, but the Manaui was procured through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on 13th January 1989, and at 29 years of service is nearing the end of its life. The Japan Government provided Manaui I through the assistance of a consortium of Japanese companies comprising Sumitomo Corporation and the Nishinippon F.R.D. Shipbuilding Company Ltd. Over the years, the Manaui was maintained with the on-going assistance of Japan’s Overseas Fishery Cooperation Foundation (OFCF). The Government of Tuvalu has requested assistance to replace the old Manaui with a new vessel more suited to the changing role of fisheries in the country.
A team of four experts from the Japan Fisheries Engineering Co., Ltd. and their leader visited Funafuti in January on a fact-finding mission to identify needs and existing facilities so that the new Manaui can be designed. The Team was hired by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to conduct the survey and consult with representatives from the Government of Tuvalu including, Heads of the Ministry of Natural Resources and senior staff of the Fisheries Department. The team arrived in early January and spent three weeks on Funafuti doing their survey and consultancy works.
The proposal to replace the old Manaui is timely because it is more suited to experimental fishing than research and monitoring and many of its systems have started breaking down, requiring increasing periods on the slip for maintenance. Despite the old age and frequent breakdowns of the MV Manaui, she has played a good role within the department of executing of trips within Tuvalu including trips involving Government official, development projects, charters and fisheries sector work. One of the officials from Japan who assessed the status of the old Manaui, confirmed that the vessel has reached the end of its useful life and should be replaced.