4 Mar 2010

Solomons Fisheries Director gave wrong info, says Minister

4:54 pm on 4 March 2010

The Solomon Islands Minister for Fisheries, Nollen Leni, says the Director of his department was to blame for wrongly approving permits for two Chinese fishing vessels now charged with illegal fishing.

Skippers of the vessels appeared in Court in Honiara this week, while the 13 members of both crews are detained by Immigration officials, on bail of US$1,800 per person.

The boats had been detained since January, but the Minister announced last week that they were to be released, after he was informed by the Director of Fisheries, Eddie Oirehaka, that he had signed a Memorandum of Understanding, giving the vessels approval to fish.

However, Mr Leni says the Director has no power to issue that approval.

"Normally the Ministry would present a paper to caucus and cabinet to approve that kind of a Memorandum of Understanding. In this case, it wasn't and that is the problem we have with the Director's action."

Nollen Leni