16 Dec 2022

Pacific news in brief for December 16

9:36 am on 16 December 2022
Pacific islands, ocean, map

Photo: 123RF

Pacific officials tell conference safeguarding the ocean is vital

Pacific officials at the COP15 Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, Canada say they want to safeguard the Pacific Ocean as well as island biodiversity.

Officials from the United Nations and 13 Pacific states are at the conference to speak out during negotiations of the Global Environment Facility.

The facility provides funds to combat climate issues, ocean biodiversity, and tackle the issue of marine plastic waste.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme director general, Sefanaia Nawadra, said the Pacific's unique island diversity is under threat.

"We, from the Pacific, obviously want to strengthen the ocean and island biodiversity. It's not only the importance of the ocean but also island diversity being some of the most threatened and some of the most unique because of the small size and isolation."

The conference continues until Monday.

Fears for West Papua forests due to lack of rangers

West Papua needs more rangers to cover its 8.4 million hectare area, its forestry office says.

The American Wood Protections Association reports the head of the forestry office saying they have 98 rangers, and many of those are due to retire.

But they should have between 240 and 300.

Hendrik Runaweri says theoretically, one forest ranger covers approximately 10,000 hectares of forest.

However, each ranger must guard around 85,000 hectares.

Solomon Islands suspicious death now a murder case

Solomon Islands police say a suspicious death of a man found under Fiu Bridge in Central Kwara'ae is now a murder investigation.

Malaita Province commander Leslie Kili says police have arrested an 18-year-old male out of 11 suspects previously identified.

The teenager will appear in court at a later date.

Kili said parties connected to both the deceased and the suspects had a reconciliation ceremony in Auki Police Station before the arrest, to calm down both sides from further retaliation while the investigation is in progress.

Concerns as Marianas election result lacks certification

The results of the Northern Marianas gubernatorial race won by Arnold Palacios and his running mate David Apatang is still awaiting certification.

The Commonwealth Election Commission fears a lack of quorum on its board might mean they will have to wait.

The Palacios-Apatang team is concerned that the lack of certification would result in the postponement of the transition from the administration of defeated Governor Ralph Torres, and his running mate, Vinnie Sablan.

The Commission blames the inaction of the Legislature to confirm Torres' appointment of former special assistant for Women's Affairs Remedio Reyes Sablan to serve as a commissioner.

New Caledonia party willing to work on referendum plan

Anti-independence party Caledonia Together says it wants to collaboratively work for a referendum plan.

This is after the French Interior Minister announced there will be no referendum in New Caledonia during the ruling French president's five-year term.

Party leader Philip Gomes told La Premiere a consensus needs to be built together.

"Our DNA is to revisit our right to auto-determination, we can no longer exercise against each other but with one another," he said.

Vanuatu patrol named after iconic bird

Vanuatu's Patrol boat, RVS Mataweli, has been named after an endemic bird species found in the mountains of Santo Island that almost became extinct in the 20th century.

According to the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Maritime Commander, Collin Ioan Kalwatman, the boat will be taken to Santo next week by six appointed maritime police officers who will be in charge of the vessel.

Upon arrival in Santo, a custom ceremony will be performed by some of the maritime officers to the local chiefs before the boat can be utilised.

Kalwatman said custom exchanges will be performed as a gesture of appreciation to the chiefs for permitting the new patrol boat to be named after the custom name of the Santo mountain Starling, Mataweli.

The the boat will be based in Luganville where it will provide service to coastal areas in the northern islands.

PNG government receiving loans for air services

The Asian Development Bank and the Government of Papua New Guinea have signed two loans to fund improved air services.

Loans amounting to almost $US163 million were agreed.

The programme will upgrade five national airports for better safety and security, improve the power supply at Port Moresby International Airport, and

install a standard automatic weather observation system.

The programme will pilot the upgrading of rural airstrips in four locations.

French Polynesia publication back online

The French Polynesian iconic daily newspaper La Depeche de Tahiti has returned, in digital form.

It was previously shut down due to its owner facing liquidation and ceased publication in April.

For now it will only be available online and is free.

La Depeche's new owner Karim Cahed told La Premiere the newspaper is popular and its return is very welcome.

"I am happy because La Depeche is a monument. For now we have done quite a massive effort to come out with a digital publication in a minimum amount of time and we made a site in a short amount of time."