6 Apr 2023

Pacific news in brief for April 6

2:39 pm on 6 April 2023
Greenpeace International activists paint the word 'RISK!' on the starboard side of Normand Energy, a vessel chartered by the Belgian company Global Sea Mineral Resources (GSR).

Greenpeace activities opposing deep-sea mining Photo: © Marten van Dijl / Greenpeace

Pacific - deep-sea mining

The UN body responsible for safeguarding the deep ocean will start accepting applications for deep-sea mining in July.

Reuters reports the International Seabed Authority made the decision at the conclusion of its two-week meeting debating the standards for controversial fledgling industry in Jamaica last week.

Deep-sea mining would target metals used in the production of batteries - cobalt, copper, nickel and manganese primarily through the harvesting of nodules on the seabed at depths of 4 to 6kms.

The seabed authority's governing council formulated a draft decision on Thursday that allows companies to file permit applications starting in July, a deadline set in motion by actions Nauru took in 2021, according to a copy seen by Reuters.

But Chile, France, Palau and Fiji, among other nations, have called for a global moratorium on the practice, citing environmental concerns and a lack of sufficient scientific data.

New Caledonia - Paris talks

New Caledonia's largest pro-independence party says it is entering this month's talks with the French government with the sole intention of restoring New Caledonia's sovereignty.

The party's president Daniel Goa says it aims to regain independence by 2025 to end the "sombre period of colonisation".

The Caledonian Union is part of the FLNKS delegation which will attend talks with the French prime minister Elisabeth Borne.

The meeting with New Caledonia's politicians was called to chart the territory's future after three referendums rejected full sovereignty, although the third one involved a boycott by the Kanaks due to the effects of covid-19.

Fiji - health

Fiji's Health Minister Ratu Atonio Lalabalavu says public hospitals have lost over 800 nurses in the past year.

Ratu Lalabalavu told parliament the health ministry's human resources attrition had been abnormally high over the last 12 months.

He said that there had also been a loss of doctors, and that the decline of Human resources compromised the delivery of health services in the country.

"Attrition rates for health workers have been abnormally high over the last 12 to 24 months and have been faciliated by many push and pull factors including emmigration, higher salaries, family, aggressive tactics by overseas recrutiment agencies and private hospitals."

PNG - Bougainville

An MP in Papua New Guinea's Oro Province has apologised to the Autonomous Bougainville Government and its people for his criticism of the facilities at Buka Airport.

According to The National, Arore said his outburst occurred as a result of frustration over the manner in which passengers had to wait for hours to board the plane.

Arore said he meant no offence to the Autonomous Bougainville Government or its people.

He said the people deserve to be treated better, they can't be sitting inside a hot shed, on stones and timbers waiting for their flights.

Vanuatu - aviation

Air Vanuatu says services to and from Australia and New Zealand are not set to resume until mid-next week.

The airline's one international plane has been out of action awaiting parts, which have been sourced via partners in Asia.

Air Vanuatu has offered full re-ticketing and refund policies, and is scheduling staff to work over Easter to further assist customers.

It has apologised for the disruptions.

Marianas - tourism/China

The Governor of the Northern Marianas has written to the US Indo-Pacific Commander saying his country is moving away from the Chinese tourism market in a bid to support the US.

It is opting to further develop its tourism market in Japan and South Korea, which are considered allies to the US.

Arnold Palacios wrote that his administration is very much committed to the US national interests in their region, and will do what they can to advance them as geopolitical tensions continue to rise.

He said part of this commitment includes his country's pivot away from its reliance on the Chinese tourism market, which comprised more than 50 percent of its tourism base.

Fiji - media

Fiji's Government spent more than $US6 million US dollars on advertising with the Fiji Sun newspaper from 2014-2022.

FBC News reports this was revealed in a response to a written question by the Assistant Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, Sakuisa Tubuna.

The question requested the total cost of the exclusive government advertising in the Sun in that period, excluding advertising by government commercial companies, statutory organisations, amd independent institutions that came by way of a directive.