THE Papua New Guinea Government has finally decided to shut down illegal logging leases that have enriched foreign companies and dispossessed traditional landowners. The decision would put an end to a dubious agriculture and business purposes scheme where an estimated more than 5.2 million hectares of customary land around the country had been alienated for ‘special agriculture activities’ over virgin forest tracts containing tropical hardwoods.
It was estimated that more than 400 leases had been issued over customary land since the early 1980s to 2013. The country’s new Lands Minister, Justin Tkatchenko, has announced a committee to review the 175 controversial Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABL) with objective to cancel the leases. Mr Tkatchenko said a Customary Land Advisory Committee would deal with the SABLs which, he said, was a long-outstanding issue and one that was advertised all around the world.
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PORT facilities at Fiji’s second largest city, Lautoka, will take on a new look in 12 months’ time with the expected completion by then of structures to accommodate the storing and export of magnetite-rich ironsand.
This follows the handing over, late May, of a 5.9 hectare wharf site by Amex Resources Limited to Chinese port-construction company, CCCC First Harbour Consultants, to begin work on a berth, a barge unloading facility, a washing plant, a stockpile area, ship-loading infrastructure, as well as workshops and offices. Speaking at the hand-over ceremony, Fiji’s Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources, Faiyaz Koya expressed the hope that it would take the Amex project in Fiji “much closer to the commencement of (ironsand) mining”.
“The construction of these facilities - together with the purchase of a specialized marine fleet - represents a $180-million investment. This is in addition to the $25-million the Company (Amex) has already spent on exploration and other associated works leading up to this,” Minister Koya said.
PACIFIC Islands Forum Fisheries Ministers will meet in Tuvalu from June 29-July 1st, 2015, in their 11th annual Ministerial Forum Fisheries Committee Meeting.
A major agenda item of FFCMIN11 is the review of the Future of Fisheries in the Pacific Islands region.
This re-envisaging exercise is very appropriate, in terms of both the evolving importance and condition of fisheries management and development as well as in the context of on-going regional cooperation.
Fisheries is the most significant renewable resource that Pacific Island countries and territories have for food security, livelihoods and economic growth.
As Island populations grow, the future benefits that these resources can provide will depend on how well we can balance the increasing demands with the capacity of oceanic, coastal and freshwater fish stocks to sustain those harvests.
That will depend upon the political, legal, management and institutional arrangements and commitments that PICs have in place. FFA and SPC commissioned the initial Future of Fisheries Study in 2010 to address these concerns. It provided three possible scenarios of how regional fisheries might end up after 25 years depending upon steps taken by governments and other stakeholders: * The best-case scenario – securing the future; * The worst case – collapse; and * the most likely scenario – missed Opportunities.
by James Movich, FFA director general
DESPITE difficult and often contentious issues confronting fisheries management in the Pacific, the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) keep forging ahead with new initiatives aimed at controlling the fishing industry, while increasing benefits to its eight-member nations.
At the PNA annual fisheries ministers’ meeting in Pohnpei the second week of June, some concerns didn’t result in agreement for action, such as the red flags being raised over escalating bigeye tuna catches in an unregulated high seas area east of the Marshall Islands and north of Kiribati, or a Tuvalu proposal for regional crewing requirements for purse seiners.
But to the repeatedly asked question, “Can PNA maintain its unity to expand its unprecedented influence on this multi-billion dollar industry long controlled by distant water fishing nations?”, the answer that keeps coming out of PNA leaders’ meeting is a resounding “yes”.
“PNA meetings are rough and tumble events with open and sometimes harsh debate, but when we walk out the door, we’re in agreement”, is the way one fisheries official from the region describe the PNA decision-making process. Two main criticisms of PNA by some segments of the industry have been that despite rhetoric to the contrary, it is not doing enough to limit fishing in PNA waters, and in providing access to its waters, PNA isn’t recognising traditional partners in the region, such as the United States, as it sells fishing days to the highest bidders. To the latter, Marshall Islands Fisheries Director Glen Joseph says simply, “It’s just business.”
by GIFF JOHNSON
COAL might be the next big thing for Papua New Guinea after gold, copper, silver, nickel, oil and gas.
Though research into coal mining potential is slow, it is now being religiously pursued with the Papua New Guinea Government for the first time ever taking ardent interest.
The Government has committed K10 million to Mineral Resource Authority (MRA) for research into coal mining and coal seam gas industries in the country.
Three international private backers are also behind the investigations to determine whether Papua New Guinea has feasible resources to underpin future coal mining and coal seam gas industries.
Mining Minister Byron Chan said in a unique cooperative approach, the three exploration companies are spearheading the coal exploration initiative.
Mr Chan said Waterford, Mayur Coal and Pacific Mining Partners have come together in Gulf province where highly-prospective discoveries have been made and a drilling program has started.
He said coal has also been identified in various other provinces and it is a mineral that provides much opportunity for PNG, including direct export, power generation and manufacturing.
MRA has confirmed this strong potential for coal and coal seam mining based on its ongoing research. MRA team leader for mapping Chris Wamugl indicated this in a presentation in November 2014 during a the 50th annual session of the Coordinating Committee for Geoscience Programs in East and South East Asia, in Kokopo, East New Britain Province.
He said PNG had the potential to go into coal mining and there was a need to develop this mining activity.
by Sam Vulum