The governor of Papua New Guinea's Madang province has hit out at the government over the impact of mine waste in Basamuk Bay.
Peter Yama said the Environment and Conservation Minister Wera Mori was out of line in challenging results from recent testing of water samples off Madang's coast.
The tests by a team led by Swiss scientist Alex Mojon linked dead marine life to waste from the Ramu nickel mine.
The team was hired by Madang's provincial government.
Mr Mori has questioned the methodology of Dr Mojon's team and suggested the mine owner, RamuNico, may not be to blame.
However, Mr Yama said the minister was trying to deflect.
"So, we have two different doctors and two different teams to come up with two different laboratory tests. So, we know that what we are talking about is right, and we do not try to confuse anybody for this matter. But yet, you know how the politicians are...
"They are passing the buck to MRA (Mineral Resources Authority), and MRA is they are passing the buck to CEPA (Conservation and Environment Protection Authority)."
Along with CEPA officials, Mr Mori, who was appointed last week, said dead marine life was being seen dozens of kilometres away in other parts of the Madang region and therefore may not have been caused by the Ramu mine.
But the governor said the mine's toxic effects had been building up for years, causing an environmental issue that must be addressed for the sake of Madang communities.
He confirmed people in his province were still unable to access food and livelihoods since fishing in the Basamuk Bay area was banned due to recent deaths and illnesses linked to a slurry spill from the mine operations.