‘Very enthusiastic’: Tuvaluan PM inspired by visit to Angelica Fisheries
The Prime Minister of Tuvalu Enele Sopoaga recently visited Ulladulla to meet with three Tuvaluan workers employed through the Pacific Labour Scheme, demonstrating his full support for the program.
“He came away very enthusiastic and supportive of the program after being able to speak directly with workers, the employer and Tuna Australia,” said Tuna Australia CEO David Ellis.
The visit on Sunday 2 December, requested by the PM, was to Angelica Fisheries where three Tuvaluans are being trained as deckhands onboard two tuna longline fishing vessels.
The PM was impressed with the workers and the cooperative processing plant in Ulladulla, and expressed a dream for his country to develop their own commercial fishing capability.
“I think the PM is very proud to have people from his country working in Australia,” said Steve Basile, owner of Angelica Fisheries on the south coast of NSW.
“And he would like to see many more come to Australia to learn new skills and eventually take them home to Tuvalu to start up their own businesses.”
Since the scheme started in July 2018, there are now 12 Tuvaluans employed in the east coast tuna longline sector based in Cairns, Mooloolaba and Ulladulla. Many more workers are being sought for the future.
The scheme assists employers to meet their labour needs that are not being met within the Australian labour market.
Tuvalu has 1,200 qualified seafarers who are keen to work and fill the demand of fisheries deck hands in Australia.
“Tuvaluan employees often have tuna fishing experience thereby providing a stable workforce for companies,” said Ellis. “This allows tuna operators to plan better, retain skills, and operate more efficiently.”
For Basile, his positive experience with the program has led him to spruik its benefits to others.
“I have already told many fellow fishermen to trial the workers from Tuvalu,” he said. “They are a beautiful natured people, and this program provides a very good career pathway as there are limited job prospects in their Pacific nation.”
Also in attendance at the event was the High Commissioner for Tuvalu Karyn Murray, Palladium Group representative Oxana Reed and a representative from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).