15 Jun 2006

Dispute in Papua New Guinea over foreign fishing boats

2:09 pm on 15 June 2006

There is a dispute in Papua New Guinea over the presence of two foreign fishing boats in East New Britain.

The Minister for Fisheries, Ben Semri, is reported to have told the National Fisheries Authority, the NFA, to grant fishing licences to the two Taiwanese registered boats.

According to documents leaked to the Post Courier, the NFA chairman, Pochon Lili, advised the minister in writing that the licences won't be issued unless the boat owners comply with all the relevant laws of PNG.

The NFA believes the boats have been illegally fishing in the region.

Mr Semri is reported to have responded by telling the chairman he didn't want to know about that and the company had made a significant investment in the country that needed to be supported.

He also told Mr Lili that it's his responsibility to make sure the minister's or government's agenda is facilitated.

The NFA board responded by saying no licences would be issued until the company's proposed processing facility is 75 per cent complete, and it's also raised concerns that it hadn't raised the funds required to build a cannery.