24 Nov 2022

Pacific news in brief for November 24

11:43 am on 24 November 2022
The Chinese fishermen after their case was heard at the Appeal Court

The Chinese fishermen after their case was heard at the Appeal Court Photo: Dan McGarry

Chinese fishermen's case returned to Supreme Court

The Vanuatu Appeal Court has overturned the acquittals of the crew of two Chinese fishing vessels for allegedly fishing illegally in Vanuatu waters.

On January 21, 2021, two vessels were apprehended by the Vanuatu naval ship, the RVS Tukoro.

Subsequently, the masters and their crews faced criminal prosecution alleging they had fished in territorial waters of Vanuatu without the required licences, in breach of the Vanuatu Fisheries Act.

The matter went to the Supreme Court in August and the judge acquitted them on all charges, but this was appealed.

The Appeal Court has now sent the matter back to the Supreme Court for reconsideration.

Micronesia to kickstart MMR vaccine programme for kids

The Federated States of Micronesia will begin a campaign to roll-out the Measles, Mumps and Rubella - or MMR - vaccine for young children.

Children aged one to three will receive vaccines while others aged two to three will receive routine vaccines

Covid-19 vaccines for children aged between six months and four years will also be administered.

While Micronesia has had relatively decent coverage against MMR, the coverage as of November 21 was the lowest in the nation's history.

The second-dose coverage for the Measles vaccination is just 21 percent.

A Government spokesperson said the issue didn't come from vaccines numbers but air travel restriction and staff shortage.

Insurance company expanding operations in Fiji

The New Zealand insurance company Tower is planning to invest more in its Fiji hub.

Tower operates in New Zealand and seven Pacific Island nations, providing its customers with cover for their houses, cars, contents, businesses and more.

Its chief executive Blair Turnbull said the company would add an extra 100 people to its Fiji office next year.

He said this would see the mix of staff more evenly spread between its operational centres in Auckland, Rotorua and Suva.

Court rules police must return money to construction firm

The Papua New Guinea National Court has ordered the return of about $US360,000 to Ipwenz Construction, after it was seized by members of the police in Komo in July.

The Company took out court proceedings for the release of items and cash confiscated when a staff member was arrested.

The company argued the funds were part and parcel of a contract it had secured from the National Government, for the upgrade of roads in the Hela Province.

After investigation, the police concluded the cash was intended to compensate landowners affected by the roading upgrade, and agreed to settle the matter.

New Pitcairn Island mayor elected

The fewer than 50 people living on Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific Ocean have chosen a non-Pitcairner to be their mayor, the top governmental office on the island.

This is the first time this has happened in the island's 232-year history.

The new mayor is 57-year-old Simon Young of Yorkshire in England.

Young first visited Pitcairn Island for a short time in 1992, then returned in 1999 with his wife Shirley, an American, to live permanently.

His victory total was 19 votes versus 16 for an islander who was also seeking office.

Funding for climate-resilient wharves in Port Vila

The New Zealand government has committed a further $US6.1 million towards shipping infrastructure in Vanuatu.

Associate Foreign Minister, Aupito William Sio, is in Vanuatu where he made the announcement at the Pacific Community Ministerial Conference in Port Vila.

He said New Zealand has been a co-financier of the Vanuatu Interisland Shipping Support Project since 2012, alongside the Vanuatu Government and the Asian Development Bank.

So far, two wharves have been completed, maritime safety has been bolstered and a shipping subsidy scheme has been developed.

This next raft of funding has been earmarked for completing the construction of climate-resilient wharves.

British minister visiting Vanuatu

The UK's Minister for the Indo-Pacific is visiting Vanuatu.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan was to talk with Vanuatu's Prime Minister, Ishmael Kalsakau, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jotham Napat, about the priorities of their recently-elected government.

The UK works closely with Vanuatu to strengthen maritime security, and climate resilience as well as capacity-building in the region.

The Minister is also attending the 12th annual Conference of the Pacific Community in Port Vila.

Thirteen new permanent secretaries announced in Fiji

The outgoing Director of the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, Ashwin Raj, is among 13 new permanent secretary appointees announced by the Public Service Commission.

Raj has been appointed the new permanent secretary for the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, starting December 12.

It is understood that Raj stepped down from his Commission directorship position last week.