The US Ambassador to Fiji, Judith Cefkin officially opened the Fish 2.0 Workshop held at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva.

Speaking to 31 Pacific Seafood business participants from 9 Pacific Island countries, Ambassador Cefkin highlighted the importance of promoting conservation and sustainability in the fisheries sector.

“We know that the greatest potential for progress is found in the public and private sector, so we count on the private sector that will drive the innovation that will deliver market seafood products and even more sustainable and efficient ways, thereby meeting demand and easing pressure on fisheries that lead to overexploitation of their resources,” Ambassador Cefkin said.

“We want to help to provide businesses and entrepreneurs acquire the tools that will help you expand your enterprises reach new markets and find strategic partners,” she said.

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Director Policy-Economic Governance, Mr Shiu Raj who was also present at the event said the platform established by Fish 2.0 to incubate and nurture sustainable fisheries businesses is an opportunity that links seafood business and investors and industry experts.

“The Fish 2.0 Regional Hotspot aims to build capacity and match participants with relevant industry partners and potential investors. It is our expectation that this innovative competition will serve to strengthen existing fisheries businesses, catalyse new and more resilient enterprises, and strengthen existing business models,” Mr Raj said.

He added that over 60 per cent of the enterprises participating in Fish 2.0 in 2015 gained investment, new partners or new customers from connections made during this event.

“This proven tripartite approach is one that has already yielded benefits and can serve as a model to be replicated in other sectors of strategic interest to our region.” Mr Shiu Raj added.

WWF-Pacific’s Conservation Director, Ms Sally Bailey, told participants that the workshop was a great testament to Pacific Island Businesses, which had participated in last year’s Fish 2.0 competition at Standford University in Pato Alto, California.

“We are really pleased to be here with Fish 2.0 which started in 2015 and it was great to work with the participants, where we had 5 finalists in November 2015 and it is a great testament to the business here and the fact that Alfred Kalontas of Alfa Fishing from Vanuatu was the winner,” Ms Bailey said.

U.S. State Department, the Forum Fisheries Agency, Pacific Trade and Invest, and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat with WWF-Pacific as the regional partner support the Fish 2.0 Pacific Islands workshop.

The three-day business development workshop for Pacific Island Seafood Businesses prepares participants to receive expert advice on communication about their businesses, training on pitching to investors and guidance on succeeding in the 2017 Fish 2.0 competition at the final event in Stanford University in Palo Alto California.