Surfing association president wants resource owners involved in developing oceans policy

Surfing Association of PNG president Andrew Abel has lashed out at the organizers of the National Oceans Forum held in Port Moresby this week.

The three days forum is expected to end today with a draft national oceans policy in place. The first ever to be developed.

But Abel who was among the participants apart from 14 provincial representatives was disappointed that locals who use the oceans and resources around them were not invited to the forum to  to share their views and consulted.

Their views would essentially form a policy that affects them directly in the end.

This was despite an objective of the forum being promoted that it was about opening dialogues with provinces.

He said for 30 years he was working with resource owners developing surfing, using a locally devised model in the Momase, New Guinea Islands and Southern regions- without any support from government.

“I did it in partnership with resource custodians,” he said.

He realized his model has been empowering the people and communities and other countries are wanting to adopt the model.

He said his surf management model focuses on the four pillars of surf management in planning, negotiation, implementation and management of surfing vessels.

Abel stressed traditional resource owners use resources within their 3 nautical mile zones near their fringing reefs and it was mandatory they should be at the National Oceans Forum.

“Those policies affect our people on the ground,” he said.

“It’s incumbent on the minister and secretary and agencies to have money and fly them in.”

Abel said he sympathized with resource owners that airfares from places like Kavieng and Vanimo are expensive at around K1,900 return.

“To say we forgot is ignorance,” he said.

New Ireland to have a new house of assembly

China Railway Construction Group (CRCG) will build a new house of assembly for the New Ireland provincial government costing K12 million.

On Wednesday a ground breaking ceremony took place in Kavieng with a model design being presented to Governor Sir Julius Chan.

There was a special customary ritual performed prior to official speeches and launch.

The provincial government media said the ritual was to connect and be at peace with spirits who may dwell and so things transition without any spiritual curse or disturbances.

Past assembly members were also honoured.

CRCG Economic & Commercial Counselor to the Chinese Embassy in the country Liu Linlin was with the New Ireland government officials and schools and church representatives.

The launch and construction of this new assembly is significant as Governor Sir Julius Chan recently celebrated his 80th birthday- 50 of these years was as a politician from New Ireland.

He said the legislative assembly marks a new era for New Ireland and is being built with the future in mind.

“New Ireland is becoming Autonomous so we will call it the “Legislative Assembly”.

“This house is for leaders to come and make laws for good Governance. But more importantly it will be for the future generations and for the public to come and see their representatives,” he said.

The building was designed to depict a “house boy” as illustrated by a miniature 3-D model presented to Governor Sir Julius by CRCG.

“On the ground floor you will have the main legislative assembly hall, three offices for open members, I didn’t forget them, we are building three because we are thinking about tomorrow. There will be a chamber, offices for the 10 Presidents and there will be a place for the public too, so you can observe the Assembly and debates. On the top floor will be the office of the governor, deputy governor and chairman’s of various sectors. The New Legislative Assembly will be modern and will lift our standards to equal meetings held in developed countries,” Sir Julius said adding New Irelanders must be proud.

This will be the first time for CRCG to construct a building in New Ireland after operating in PNG for the past 11 years.

It’s General Manager Mei Hongliang said the company has a positive track record in the country with most of its building owners expressing confidence in the company.

He conveyed that the company was committed to giving job opportunities to the locals as well as being a responsible corporate citizen.

Papua New Guinea has never had an ocean’s policy

Papua New Guinea has never had an oceans policy.

What’s more concerning is that this challenges the country in passing laws that govern any development at our oceans on oil exploration, mining or fisheries to name a few.

Secretary for the Department of Justice and Attorney General Dr Eric Kwa made these opening remarks in Port Moresby yesterday when introducing a three day National Oceans Forum.

At the end of the forum, participants who include University of Papua New Guinea professors, provincial participants, statutory organisations, NGO’s and justice and attorney general staff would have to come up with a National Oceans Policy.

A subsequent forum is to be held after a month’s time to firm up the policy and eventually present to Cabinet for endorsement.

The forum was timely when the country is faced with unprecedented developments at our oceans like the recently announced Pasca LNG development-100 km south of Gulf Province, the Basamuk slurry spill in the Madang Province and the now failed (liquidated) Solwara 1 under sea mining project in New Ireland.

“There is no clear direction by the government since independence about how we are going to manage these very important resources,” he said.

“These kinds of project are happening without a very clear policy.”

Mr Kwa said with the Pasca project, there was the notion that the project was far from usual fishing reefs for people and so it could be fast tracked bypassing landowners but there could be possible contentions to it if there was a clear policy and an understanding of the delimitation’s of ocean boundaries.

“Most of us just go fishing or passing through vessels where as actually the ocean has been divided into different zones,” he said.

“We’ll talk about international waters, the territorial waters, the contiguous zones, and the economic exclusion zones.”

Parliament passed the Maritime Zones Act in 2015 which essentially explained the different boundaries of the sea which were the 12 nautical miles territorial waters, 24 nautical miles contiguous waters and 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zones.

There is a catch to this Act though- it was not preceded with a policy and Dr Kwa stressed: “Here we have a law, but we needed to be guided by a policy.”

“In making law we say, the law follows policy.”

He said discussions must not be limited to developing ocean resources but, extended to conservation and sustainable use.

Shipping vessel grounded at Buka passage

The National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) reports that a ship was grounded at Buka passage early today.

In a statement it said the ship MV Julian was making its way into port when the incident occurred.

The container ship used its own engine to free itself on the reef and went alongside Buka wharf.

NMSA’s General Manager/CEO, Paul Unas said NMSA would carry out an investigation to establish the cause of the incident and appropriate actions would be taken after the investigations.

He said NMSA is mandated to conduct investigation on all incidents that happen at sea that are caused by ships.

The ship has now been safely maneuvered into Buka wharf and awaiting investigations and surveys to ensure it is seaworthy to continue its voyage.

From social media pictures the vessel missed berthing at the wharf by more than 100 metres and went to a shallow area further west from the wharf towards Sohano Island.

Huge vessels like MV Julian usually voyage in from the east, berth, offload and unload and then travel out the same easterly direction again.

The currents on Buka passage which separates Buka Island from the Bougainville mainland is reported to be one of the fastest in the world and recently there were discussions to generate electricity using the current at Buka passage.

PNG’s Environment minister says they will follow existing laws when dealing with the “Basamuk pollution”

Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Geoffrey Kama has informed stakeholders that his Ministry and the Department of Environment and Climate Change will strictly follow the existing laws to discipline any mining companies in breach of any laws governing the mining industry and there are no short cuts in shutting down the mines.
Mr Kama said this when meeting with the Basamuk landowners on Sunday last week at Basamuk Refinery in the Rai Coast District of Madang province.
He went to have an independent assessment on the Refinery’s’ Saturday Aug 24 slurry spill into the Basamuk harbour.
His senior officers including Managing Director of CEPA, Gunther Joku and deputy managing director, Michael Maue including Madang Governor Peter Yama accompanied him to Basamuk.
Ramu NiCo President Gao Yongxue and his vice president Wang Baowen received the minister and his delegation in Madang and accompanied them to Basamuk.
This is the second visit of a senior state minister after Mining Minister, Johnson Tuke who visited Basamuk Refinery for an independent assessment on Tuesday Aug 27 in his capacity as the Mining Minister.
The Environment Ministers visit follows after his chief investigators from CEPA, Lave Michael, Joseph Umare and Robert Sine, Manager Mining with MRA were on the ground at Basamuk on Monday Aug 26 to conduct an investigation into the slurry spill.
Kama told the principal Basamuk landowners that Marape-Stevens government will not go ahead and shut down Ramu NiCo Project or Basamuk Refinery as demanded but will strictly follow the laws so that all parties are given fair treatment.
The minister’s call came after the landowners demanded that Basamuk Refinery be closed following the slurry discharge and other outstanding matters including socio-economic benefits.
Last week, Member for Rai Coast, Peter Sapia, Madang Governor Peter Yama and the landowners demanded for the closure of Ramu NiCo Project.
But Mr Kama said investigation into the alleged slurry spill is still underway by the Mines Inspector and Mines Inspectorate alone has the power to shut down the mine and not him.

PNG Prime Minister condemns violence in Indonesia

Prime Minister James Marape today said he would make a statement about the escalating violence in West Papua as soon as he is fully briefed about what is happening.

He meanwhile condemned what is happening there.

He told EMTV news while he respected Indonesia’s sovereignty, “it must come within the context of human rights.”

A man from Papua New Guinea living at a border post south-east from Jayapura says they are monitoring the violence in Jayapura closely.

He would move his family to Vanimo if the violence escalates.

He said 200 Indonesian military personnel from Kalimantan were deployed to Jayapura last week and they believe it was to attack people rather than providing security and to safeguard properties or people.

There were internet outages last week but it was partially restored this week and he was able to communicate with us via Facebook video call.

He said the atmosphere could not be regarded as fine. It was particularly dangerous during evenings.

There are regular roadblocks around the busy Jayapura with thorough checks conducted.

Anyone who does not have a national identification card would be suspected as a member of the OPM rebels.

It is believed the violence will not cease anytime soon.

Opposition MPs defect to government three months after installation of James Marape as Prime Minister

Seven members of the Opposition have defected to the government.

They include Kavieng MP Ian Ling-Stuckey who has also been offered the Treasury Ministry.

He was sworn in at Government house this morning.

The others as reported are Namatanai MP and National Alliance Party General Secretary Walter Snaubelt, East Sepik Governor Allan Bird, Oro Governor Gary Juffa, Port Moresby Northwest MP Sir Mekere Morauta and two Bougainville MP’s Timothy Masiu and William Nakin.

Mr Bird has explained to his Sepik people that his defection was a result of political under currents he believed were not encouraging for the country’s growth.

“When I was in the US, I received information of a possibility of another Parliamentary coup to remove Marape and elements within PNC and others were behind it. I objected strongly and said I would not be a part of such a move,” he said.

“PNC and it’s leaders have now been ejected by PMJM to join the opposition.”

“When the opportunity to help the country arose for some of us to assist the government, we took it.”

“My fight was against PNC and it’s repressive policies. I have no argument with the Marape government unlike the O’Neil government,” he said.

Oro Governor Gary Juffa meanwhile said on his social media wall: “PNC Leader Peter O’Neill has been evicted from Government and has been asked to move to Opposition.”

“This means we now move to Government.”

“That has always been a condition of my support for the Marape Davies Government…that O’Neill no longer be a part of that Government,” he said.

Prime Minister James Marape said today it was after a careful consideration that he decommissioned Richard Maru, a senior member of the People’s National Congress Party.

“This comes as a result of ongoing collaboration with parliamentary leader of PNC party Hon. Peter O’Neill, as well as key leaders in opposition including Hon. Patrick Pruaitch and Hon. Belden Namah to actively undermine the Marape-Steven government.”