Apr 10, 2021 Last Updated 4:12 AM, Apr 8, 2021

James Movick, Director General of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency There has been a lot of press coverage in the past few months about the crisis in the southern albacore tuna longline fishery. Long liners laid off left, right and centre; world albacore prices are low; and many of the small, locally based fishing businesses that have been so carefully cultivated over the last two decades are going to the wall.

Too often the standard reaction in the region is to blame foreigners and external factors for all of our woes. The recent reactions to the current downturn in the southern albacore long line crisis are no exception. Certainly, subsidies of one foreign fleet in particular does not help our current dire situation and neither does the increase in catch of albacore in other oceans and on the South Pacific high seas. However, to resolve a problem we must start with an objective analysis of the facts and the fact here is that the cures for the current ills of this particular fishery lie largely within our own hands. Why do I say this? Because we, Pacific Island Countries, control the waters where the majority of South Pacific albacore is caught. According to the available catch statistics, two thirds of the catch of this tuna (66%) comes from the Exclusive Economic Zones of South Pacific Island nations and territories. And the rest of the catch is taken on the high seas adjacent to our EEZs, where the International Law of the Sea and the WCPFC Convention require particular attention to be paid to potential impacts on small island countries. We need to exercise this control, and we need to exercise it collectively, if we are to have any effect on a fishery that spans a quarter of the southern hemisphere. We know it can be done. The Pacific island countries that are parties to the Nauru Agreement have already effectively controlled the skipjack purse-seine fishery where 60% of the fishery is in their EEZs. 

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Days after being airlifted by the New Zealand Government for medical treatment in Auckland, aides of Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuila’epa Lupesoli’ai Sa’ilele Malielegaoi (pictured) were still playing down the extent of his illness. Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of the Prime Minister Leilua Tavis Leota says the Prime Minister’s condition “wasn’t serious” but his evacuation to New Zealand was “necessary for further treatment.” In Parliament, Leader of Opposition, Palusalue Fa’apo II accused Deputy Prime Minister, Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo for being too secretive about Tuilae’pa’s evacuation to New Zealand. “Why hasn’t there been any word about the Prime Minister’s condition,” Palusalue asked. Acting CEO in the Ministry of the PM provided the same answer. He said the PM was not in a serious condition but his treatment in New Zealand was necessary. Tuilae’pa himself had told the local media however that he had stood on a nail but didn’t think much of it. He gave an interview on government radio 2AP before he departed for Auckland as part of his weekly radio programme. He described the wound as a mere bruise.

Other media reports however say the ‘mere bruise’ on the PM’s leg got infected and by ignoring the infection, the wound had gone septic. This explained the very high fever Tuilae’pa developed while attending Parliament. He was seen leaving Parliament House later wrapped in a blanket, headed straight to the main hospital and was admitted in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. Why the Ministry of Health, or the Office of the Prime Minister is not revealing much about the true state of Tuila’epa’s medical condition is anyone’s guess. The PM did tell the media last month however that he was told by the doctors during a general medical check that his heart was strong and was given an excellent bill of health. His wife Gillian, his CEO Vaosa Epa and Head of Foreign Affairs Division Aiono Mose Sua are with him in Auckland.

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The metropolis landscape of Port Moresby is set to transform significantly with the construction of the multi million dollar Kookaburra Flyover Street, the biggest project yet ever to be undertaken this decade in Papua New Guinea and the first in any South Pacific country once completed. The flyover will become an iconic feature of Port Moresby’s landscape on leaving Jackson’s Airport, symbolising a fast growing economy and progressive country.

The construction of the flyover from Jackson’s International Airport to Sir John Guise Stadium in Waigani will start soon following the groundbreaking ceremony on 25 February. Project contractor Hawkins Group completed planning the four-lane flyover over the last six months and is now ready to begin construction. Hawkins was awarded the contract in July 2013, with site investigation, topographical and geotechnical survey work commencing immediately. Hawkins also worked closely with the client National Capital District Commission (NCDC) and client representative Cardno to achieve expected milestones and progress with the help of design partner Opus International Consultants.

The flyover street is expected to improve traffic congestion, reduce travelling times (by providing direct route), improve productivity for business, stimulates economic benefits and increase employment. The project value is just over K160 million (US$58.090m), expected to take around 109 weeks with site investigation and design being carried out in the first three to four months and followed by construction.

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Vanuatu is still reeling from monster cyclone Lusi that took at least eleven lives and caused millions of dollars in damage to gardens and properties early March. Yet in this rare instance, the cyclonic winds were not the central villain in the plot. Cyclone Lusi was first noticed as a ‘tropical disturbance’ near Vanuatu’s largest island of Espiritu Santo on 7 March and the system moved north-northeast, becoming a tropical depression on 9 March. Late on the same day, it had developed into a category one tropical cyclone called Lusi.

Prior to that announcement, Vanuatu had been blessed with a cyclone free summer /wet season. After going throughout the entire 2012/2013 season narrowly missing a couple but officially being without any sign of that deadly circular pattern on our weather maps, residents were beginning to feel confident that 2013/2014 would follow suit.

How wrong we all were. Ahead of Lusi being born, the Vanuatu Meteorology and GeoHazards Department issued tropical cyclone warnings to four of the six provinces - Torba, Sanma, Penama and Malampa. For those of us living in Efate, the island that is home to the nation’s capital of Port Vila, Cyclone Lusi was not a major event. Winds gusts around 80-90kmh and lots of rain marked this cyclone, with little damage evident, although some flooding.

But sadly, other islands did not fare so well. And it was the large volume of rain that accompanied Lusi that has marked her as the most deadly in Vanuatu’s recent history. In fact it was the most deadly in Vanuatu since Cyclone Uma all but destroyed Port Vila in February 1987 with its category four intensity claiming 50 lives throughout Vanuatu and causing US$150 million in damage.

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MP’s jailing a warning

The jailing of a Papua New Guinea MP, his rival and their supporters in Madang for contempt of court has sounded a warning to politicians and their supporters to strictly abide with the court orders.

Last month, member for Usino Bundi, Anton Yagama, and his rival and former politician Peter Yama were jailed for nine and six months respectively by the Madang National Court. Both leaders served only 10 hours behind bars at Beon prison in Madang before they were bailed out by their lawyers who successfully appealed the decision before the Supreme Court. Their contempt conviction stemmed from the violence and disturbances that affected the recounting of the votes ordered by the court of disputed returns from the 2012 national elections for the Usino Bundi seat.

The seat was won by Yagama, however his win was challenged by candidate Yama. The court of disputed returns ordered a recount of the votes. However, the recount period was marred by threats and violence between the supporters of the two candidates, resulting in presiding judge David Cannings ordering the candidates to control their supporters. Cannings had ordered in 2012 that no disturbances should occur especially within the precincts of the court. “I warned that if anything of this nature happened, the consequences would be serious,” Justice Cannings said. Despite his orders, supporters continued to cause violence resulting in Justice Cannings appealing to the leaders to control their supporters during proceedings in Waigani.

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