25 Oct 2011

Greenpeace blockade Chinese ship carrying PNG logs

11:58 am on 25 October 2011

Greenpeace has blockaded a Chinese ship carrying what the environmental group says are illegally-acquired logs from the Papua New Guinea island of New Britain.

The vessel, the Fu Tian, is docked in a lagoon near the village of West Pomio, where about 200 landowners have gathered to protest the logging activities of Malaysian owned company Rimbunan Hijau and its subsidiary, Gilford Limited.

Greenpeace forest campaigner, Paul Winn, told AAP that Fu Tian should be departing for China soon and they are trying to slow that down.

He says the ship is carrying as much as 4000 cubic metres of logs from the West Pomio area and was making its eighth trip this year in defiance of a government order issued by former acting prime minister Sam Abal.

In a statement, Rimbunan Hijau condemned the Greenpeace protest, saying the group was obstructing a palm oil project.

The company's Corporate Policy Manager, Axel Wilhelm, says the palm oil project is supported by the majority of landowners in the area, based on a Special Agricultural Business Lease or SABL in place under which all correct procedures were followed.

SABLs are currently being investigated by a Commission of Inquiry amid allegations they are a cover for clear-fell logging.