Why I was sacked: Pokajam

Members of the PNA (Parties to the Nauru Agreement) meet in Honiara on March 5-14 to discuss a number of important issues pertaining to their success. For instance what to do with the US$93 million—and that is how to distribute this pot of money resulting from last year’s successful conclusion of negotiations with the United States government and its tuna industry. But missing from this very important and crucial meeting will be PNG’s Sylvester Pokajam, former PNG National Fisheries Authority (NFA) managing director. Pokajam was ungraciously dumped from his job after he was sacked by the PNG cabinet. Letter from Suva was told that Pokajam’s sacking was to create a position for one of the leadership’s cronies. It is also being said that his relentless drive upset others in Papua New Guinea, and he was accused of having too much power and not following ministerial directives. He has been replaced by his former deputy, John Kasu. “I was told verbally on January 29 and officially on February 7, 2014. I was in Manila so I did not get a copy of the letter. The Prime Minister and his Fisheries Minister simply stated I have been with NFA for too long. “I feel that staying longer and being productive means stakeholders are more confident and it provides a stable environment for them and investors.

‘My sacking politically motivated’: “There is no law or policy in PNG stating that chief executives need to be replaced because they have simply been there for too long. Therefore, I believe my sacking was politically motivated.” The news sent shockwaves throughout the fisheries sector because the Pacific and PNG has lost a strong voice in terms of sustainable tuna management and the development of fisheries for local employment and better economic gains. Not many of the Pacific’s leaders have the guts to stand up to Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFNs) like the United States and the European Union at international meetings and negotiations. You can say Pokajam, an accountant by profession, has been there and done that. It was only in December last year he told the European Union (EU) at the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting in Cairns that if they did not want to recognise PNA’s Vessel Day Scheme, they should pack up and leave the Pacific.

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