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PNG Authorities say Sea water and Fish in Madang Safe

THE Statutory bodies responsible for fisheries and environment in Papua New Guinea  have cleared that sea waters, including the marine environment in Madang province and the Basamuk areas of Rai Coast district are safe with no evident of toxic elements found after the Basamuk Slurry spill on August 24, according to a statement by Ramu Nico.

Basamuk area affected by slurry spill 
During a meeting organised by the Madang Provincial Government and chaired by the acting provincial administrator, Joseph Bonomane Kuna on Wednesday Oct 16, officials from the Madang Provincial Fisheries Authority (NFA) confirmed that sea waters and fish around Madang province is safe for public consumption due to no trace of any toxicity.

The NFA report was confirmed by Conservation Environment & Protection Authority (CEPA) in Port Moresby last week through the Environment Minister, Geoffery Kama in Parliament saying no damage was done to the sea water and environment.

The Report by MP Kama states that discolouring to the sea should not be a concern to marine environment.

RD Tuna cannery based in Madang also confirmed that the company has a very high health and safety standard to ensure all fish caught and processed are monitored, sampled and tested before canned for public consumption and pose no health issue.

Ramu NiCo, the company operating the Basamuk Refinery also confirmed that the minor incident of slurry spill on August 24 at Basamuk Refinery was environmentally friendly with no threats to the locals who rely on marine products including fish.

The meeting was attended by more than 70 affected parties including ward councillors, business communities, Madang Provincial Government officers and media outlets.

Most of the people came all the way from the outer islands including Kranket, Karkar, Longman and coastal villages in Rai Coast and North Coast to express their concerns that the villagers who rely on marine produces are heavily affected by the Provincial Government temporary ban on the catching, selling and consumption of fish.

An NFA Compliant Officer, Rudolf Ihua told the gathering that fish do not die necessarily from one source of poison but other sources including; spills, fuel, dynamite fishing, nets or even the use of poison ropes.

“The cause can only be determined on the marks sustained from the body of the fish. So when you see a dying fish, check its body and get pictures that can assist to determine the cause of death.”

“The sharks and dolphins breed near the reefs so in the process, they can be washed ashore by the waves causing the death. You do not find them near the beach unnecessarily so be mindful of these,” Mr. Ihua said.

NFA officers told the gathering, including the acting provincial administrator, Mr. Kunda that their scientists have collected samples of fish species, sea waters and dived around the waters in Madang including Basamuk where the slurry spilled and found no toxicity and the marine environment is safe.

The officers confirmed that the preliminary report is ready but the final report will be produced after the NEC endorsement when the confirmed technical results from Singapore and Lae’s University of Technology are ready.

Dr. Jude Gawi, an Emergency Physician at Modilon General Hospital who was tasked to monitor any patient referred to the hospital following reports of consuming fish from the sea said there was no evidence to confirm that the slurry spill at Basamuk on Aug 24 has any impact.

“All medical patients under my supervision deemed to be poisoned from slurry spillage and are admitted at Modilon Hospital are cleared of any toxicity level present in their body after eating fish in the sea or rashes with boils that are minor in nature.”

“All patients were treated and discharged which includes patients coming in from health centre’s complaining of eating fish from their seas,” Dr. Gawi said.

Police Criminal Investigation Detective (CID), Sergeant Steven Yalamu told the stakeholders present that the dead person from Basamuk who is now in the morgue believed to have died from eating a fish containing slurry spill toxins is not true.

Sergeant Yalamu told Dr. Gawi who was present that the person in the morgue died from eating a puffer fish liver following his interview with the deceased’s family members on site in Ganglau village outside Basammuk Refinery last week.

“The issue on temporary fish ban, if prolonged then it can cause law and order problem. Closing the fish market in town for three weeks is an issue affecting locals who rely on fish for living and earning,” Sergeant Yalamu said.

Fishermen from Karkar Island, Longmen Island and other coastal areas asked the Madang Provincial Government to look into the issue urgently and lift the temporary fish ban or must have an alternative for the people who missed out for the source of their protein and income due to temporary fish ban.

Madang’s acting provincial administrator, Joseph Kunda said due to public health concern, the provincial administration will continue to impose fish ban and close off Madang Fish Market until CEPA produces its report and identify the primary cause of fish death as claimed by the locals.

Ramu NiCo is expected to release an official statement on Basamuk temporary shut down soon.

(CAPTION: Madang acting provincial administrator, Joseph Kunda with two senior Madang Pro Govt staff (far end) and stakeholders at the meeting on Wednesday last week to discuss issues on the cause of fish death and its impact in Madang Province.)

FM100 / PNG Today

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