Pacific Scoop

Chinese mega tuna plant plans in PNG draw lively protests

Manag children with the protest petition against the controversial tuna development project. Photo: The National

Madang children with the protest petition against the controversial tuna development project. Photo: The National

By Jeffrey Elapa in Madang

More than 700 people have staged a protest march on Papua New Guinea’s Madang provincial government office to petition the administration to stop work on the controversial Pacific Marine Industrial Zone.

The PMIZ, at Vidar along the North Coast Road, is projected to be one of the biggest tuna developments in the Asia-Pacific region and will employ more than 30,000 people.

It will have 10 tuna factories and processing facilities comparable to the existing Filipino-owned RD Tuna Canners, where fish will be processed and exported.

However, the protesters are against the development because of concerns over the environmental and social impacts the project will have on the local community.

They say environmental impact assessment reports presented to them indicate that pollution would be a high concern and their livelihood is likely to be affected because their survival depends on the sea.

Men, women and children sat in front of the Madang provincial government building during the protest last week with placards that read: “No more PMIZ”, “We want our land back – think about our future”, while others proclaimed “We do not want PMIZ –  it will destroy our sea”.

Earlier, Governor Sir Arnold Amet had arranged a meeting in the provincial assembly chambers for the group’s leaders with Commerce and Industry Minister Gabriel Kapris, secretary for Trade and Industry Anton Kulit and officers from the provincial government to address their concerns and discuss some of the issues surrounding the project.

But Sir Arnold and Kapris, after learning that an NGO group was behind the protest, said “outside people like NGOs” should not use the people to protest over the project.

“Outsiders should stop misleading the people,” Kapris said.

‘Twisting things’
“NGOs try to turn and twist things but please respect the government and educate them on what is right and wrong.”

Sir Arnold also warned the adults against using children in such marches because it was a form of “child abuse”.

Asples PNG comments: A formal complaint has begun with the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and legal actions are imminent against all parties involved.

The planned US$300 million (K990m) PMIZ project will greatly increase the industrial harvest of Madang, PNG and the Pacific Islands’ rich tuna resources.

Canneries and dock and storage facilities are to be constructed to service foreign fishing vessels that would dump their tuna catch.

It will bring tens of thousands of unskilled Asians into Papua New Guinea when local unemployment is high.

And it most certainly will lead to fishery depletion and collapse. Unless PMIZ is resisted, overfishing and piracy will destroy PNG and much of the world’s remaining tuna fisheries.

The Pacific Marine Industrial Zone planned for Madang.

The Pacific Marine Industrial Zone planned for Madang.

PMIZ would build 10 tuna factories and processing facilities like the current Filipino-owned RD Tuna cannery.

‘Sex for tuna’
The existing plant has previously been shut down for birds defecating into tuna cans, fined for poor waste disposal and employee relations are poor.

Benefits have been limited to assembly line jobs for women who make K80 a fortnight ($USD26).

Villagers have been affected by the “sex for tuna trade” where local women trade sex for fish by-catches.

The PMIZ project is being strongly driven from Port Moresby, the ruling National Alliance and their Chinese partners.

The PNG national government, which is rushing the project through despite local opposition, tried to revoke permission for this democratic assembly and expression of concerns.

The march had been approved by the provincial police authorities, but a government minister complained to police Headquarters, who overturned the decision and banned the march.  Still, people bravely marched.

This led Opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta to ask: “In whose interests is the country being governed?  A foreign power?  Foreign business interests?  Illegal immigrants?  Certainly not for Papua New Guineans.

“Section 46 of our Constitution expressly provides for freedom of expression; Section 47 provides for the right to freedom of assembly and association; Section 57 provides for enforcement of these guaranteed rights and freedoms… This is yet another example of the trend of this government of turning PNG into a Mugabe-type regime.” |

Sources:  The National | Asples PNG

1 comment:

  1. Joseph Gomes, 3. December 2009, 8:13

    This would be a disaster for this area of the Pacific. With the capacity this plan project’s, there will be little chance of a sustainable fish population for future generations.
    I wonder why not more is heard of this on the other side of the globe? It is a sad day when our press shuns such stories that have an impact upon the entire globe. Very sad indeed.