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Video will link PNG Political leaders to illegal fishing: Lawyer

A legal officer in Milne Bay Province claims to have access to a video implicating certain political leaders in illegal fishing.

During a top-level meeting, convened by Governor Titus Philemon in Alotau last week, Provincial Legal Officer Mea Arua said there was evidence of leaders encouraging locals to dive and sell beche-de-mer.

“They are prominent political leaders so our people believe what they are saying. We have notified the police and all they have to do is to notify the National Fisheries Authority that they are taking action to enforce the law.”

The NFA Board imposed the ban in 2010 initially for three years, but extended it twice since then. After that, the Board decided late last year (in 2016) to lift the ban for a temporary trial opening of the fishery, beginning on December 1.

However, Governor Philemon successfully obtained an injunction from the Alotau National Court, restraining Fisheries Minister Mao Zeming, NFA Board chairman Joe Pomat and his directors, managing director John Kasu, the State and two former Alotau BDM export licence holders, Asiapac Ltd and Kiwali Exports, from implementing the trial opening.

Philemon argued that the proposed trial opening was contrary to NFA’s own National BDM Fishery Management Plan of the Fisheries Management Act 1988 and the Fisheries Management (Amendment) Act 2015.

Lawyer Arua explains: “The six-month period, from October to March, is the spawning season, which is vital for a sustainable fishery but the NFA Board and management breached its own law when it decided for a trial opening from December 1.

“We have achieved the purpose of our application to stop the trial opening but certain parties are breaching the court order.”

(Harvested beche-de-mer drying in a Pacific Island village. Picture: IUCN)
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