Apr 16, 2021 Last Updated 9:08 PM, Apr 13, 2021

THE worldwide grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 aircrafts has prompted the Government of Samoa to defer the commissioning of its new Boeing 737 MAX 9, which was to have taken place next month (April 2019).

Recent air disasters involving the Boeing 737 MAX 8 have forced the hands of airlines around the world to ground their aircraft, and prompted Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America and China to slap a ban on the 737 MAX series in their airspaces.

“The crash of two brand new 737 MAX 8 within the span of five months has shaken the world of aviation and unless we have received clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration, the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority and Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety, we will not bring that aircraft to Samoa,” Minister of Public Enterprises Lautafi Selafi Purcell told the Samoa Observer.

Last month, an Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 bound for Nairobi, Kenya, crashed six minutes after takeoff from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, killing all 148 passengers and eight crew members on board.

On October 29 last year, Indonesian airline Lion Air flight JT610 destined for Pangkal Pinang in Indonesia crashed 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport, killing 184 passengers and five crewmembers on board.

Both accidents involved a Boeing 737 MAX 8.

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Scanning the story of a fish

Imagine typing a code from a can of tuna into your phone as you stand in a supermarket aisle to find out where the fish in the can was caught, and the name of the ship which landed it.

This is the vision of information technology professional Ken Katafono, who is breaking new grounds in the Pacific.

He has just launched TraSeable Solutions Pte Ltd, a fully home-grown tech start-up specialising in the provision of blockchain-based traceability solutions to the region’s fishing industry.

It’s a pioneering move, given that blockchain (or Distributed Ledger Technology as it is often referred to) is in its infancy in the region.

The company says the technology it provides will provide a degree of transparency for our region’s fishing industry that has never been seen before.

The Blockchain Supply Chain Traceability Project uses digital technology to strengthen the supply chain management of the fresh and frozen tuna sectors in the Western and Central Pacific regions.

It is a collaboration involving TraSeable, WWF through WWF-New Zealand, WWF-Australia and WWF-Fiji, global tech innovator ConsenSys, and tuna fishing and processing company Sea Quest Fiji ltd.

By using blockchain-based traceability solutions, a tuna product can be traced back to the original fish caught, as fishermen are required to register their catch on the blockchain through Radio Frequency Tagging (RFID) and scanning of fish.

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Raising debates on legality and privacy

When you make a phone call, send an email or use your Facebook page, information that you send across the airwaves or through the Internet can be scooped up by Western intelligence agencies. In the United States, there has been widespread public debate over government monitoring of telecommunications and the Internet, after a contractor working for the National Security Agency (NSA) revealed programmes that targeted domestic communications as well as foreign enemies.

Whistle blower Edward Snowden fled to Hong Kong and then Russia, leaking documents to the media which revealed surveillance programmes known as PRISM, XKeyscore and Tempora. In the Pacific region, countries like Australia, New Zealand and France also operate signals intelligence and communications intercept programmes, which monitor diplomatic, commercial or military communications from other nations. There is growing concern that government agencies and private corporations are also gathering data from citizens at home, raising debates over legality and privacy.

In recent months, this issue has been debated in New Zealand after Prime Minister John Key introduced legislation in Parliament to expand the powers of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB)—New Zealand’s communications intelligence agency. In July, there were rallies in 11 cities around New Zealand to protest the draft legislation, which was still before Parliament at the time of writing. Australia and New Zealand collaborate in the region under the UKUSA Agreement, which shares intelligence amongst the agencies of five Western allies.

The “Five Eyes” which monitor communications are the NSA and the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), supported by Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE), New Zealand’s GCSB and the newly renamed Australian Signals Directorate (The ASD was formerly called the Defence Signals Directorate, but was rebadged in May this year when then Prime Minister Julia Gillard launched Canberra’s latest Defence White Paper). ASD is Australia’s primary collector of signals intelligence and other electronic data, through the interception and reporting of communications like international phone calls, emails or military radios.

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Focus? Winning the hearts of the islands

It’s not often that Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meet the Chinese leadership alone on Chinese soil. The exception is the annual Post-Pacific Forum Dialogue, which follows the Pacific Forum Leaders’ summit and is always held in the Pacific. But things have changed. In November, Pacific Forum Leaders will converge on China’s eastern coastal city of Guanzhou for the first Sino-Pacific Forum Leaders’ summit. Beijing is expected to use the opportunity to showcase the power of its growing economy. The world’s third largest economy will, among other things, announce a US$1 billion soft loan facility it is offering Pacific Islands governments during the three-day China-Forum Leaders’ summit from 9 November 2013, Chinese officials said. The hosting of the historic summit also heralds the advent of a new player in the game plan to, not only have a slice of the Pacific, but win the hearts of its citizens and governments struggling to make ends meet. Until the summit, we could very well just be guessing what else Beijing might have on offer. For now, though, it seems the game to win the Pacific and to a certain extent, the United Kingdom, and on the other, is China, the new kid-on-the-bloc and rising economic and military power in the Asia-Pacific region. China, otherwise known politically as the People’s Republic of China (PRC), is flexing its new-found economic prowess by focusing on winning the hearts of the Pacific Islands nations.

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Pacific region leads the way

In disaster risk management & climate change

In July 2013, in a global first, the two main regional conferences on climate change and disaster risk management (DRM) will convene a joint meeting of the Pacific Platform for DRM and Pacific Climate Change Roundtable in Nadi, Fiji. Representatives of Pacific Islands governments, NGOs, civil society, the private sector, the scientific community, regional, international and donor organisations and many more are expected to attend.

The joint meeting will benefit from the presence of Margareta Wahlström, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, and other international and Pacific ministerial level representatives. “We are happy to have high-level representation to raise the profile and visibility of this first Pacific joint meeting on disaster risk management and climate change and to get high-level commitment and guidance for moving forward,” said Mosese Sikivou, of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Disaster Reduction Programme.

Natural hazards, according to the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction’s (UNISDR) Briefing Note on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction (2008), become disasters when they affect a community that is exposed, vulnerable and ill-prepared. Climate change is likely to exacerbate disaster risks in two ways: (1) through increasing the frequency and the intensity of weather—and climate-related hazards; and (2) by causing long-term ecosystem degradation and reductions in water and food availability, thus impacting people’s livelihoods. This increases the vulnerability of communities to the adverse effects of natural hazards because it also lessens their natural resilience to recover.

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