Chinese fisheries project in Daru raises alarm
28 November 2020
| The Guardian | Judith Nielson Institute
SYDNEY - A $204 million (K527 million) Chinese-built fishery plant planned for a Papua New Guinean island could allow Chinese-backed commercial vessels to fish legally in the Torres Strait.
The plan has raised concerns about unregulated fishing in the same waters, potentially threatening the Australian industry and local PNG fishers.
China’s ministry of commerce this month announced a deal to establish a “comprehensive multi-functional fishery industrial park” project on Daru Island in Western Province.
The memorandum of understanding, which offered little detail, was signed by the Fujian Zhonghong Fishery Company, PNG fisheries minister, Lino Tom, and the governor of Western Province, Taboi Yoto.
The plant is expected to serve as a hub for fishing vessels coming into the region, and to process catches taken from the Torres Strait.
Under the Torres Strait Treaty, Australia and PNG are allowed to fish a shared area of the waters known as the protected zone, which straddles the fishing zones of the two countries.
Inside Australia’s zone, PNG boats may take 25% of the permitted tropical lobster catch and 40% of Spanish mackerel.
To date PNG has not had the capacity to commercially fish its share of these quotas, but the deal could attract Chinese funding for PNG-flagged vessels.
Warren Entsch, the MP for the north Queensland electorate of Leichhardt, said: “It’s certainly going to impact on our side of the fishery … but at the end of the day there is a treaty arrangement there.
“The biggest losers are going to be the treaty villages [of PNG’s Western Province]. They have no welfare system and bugger-all support from the PNG government.
“When they go out to fish to feed their families, there’s going to be nothing left.”
The Fuzhou-based Fujian Zhonghong Fishery Company, established in 2011, has a long involvement with PNG, mainly in fishing and seafood processing.
But Entsch said he held concerns over China’s track record in the region.
“You only have to look at what China has done in other places in the Pacific to ask the question of whose best interest it is in,” he said. “Is it in the best interest of the broader PNG community? I suspect not.”
The trumpet has sounded so all over the world sinophobes are feeling their oats.
Of more concern for PNG's future integrity should be the recently published story of the Indonesian navy base built straddling, almost over, the boundary of Western Province and the Papua Province of Indonesia.
That's 'no news!' we were then told as the secret was apparently well known in PNG military and political circles for up to eight years.
The National, 7 October 2020 - "PNG's Major General G Toropo said he was aware of the illegal maritime base at the Torasi River and the issue was first raised in 2012.
“Since then, the matter was brought up in the annual joint border talks between the officials of Indonesia and PNG,” he said.
“The PNG Government lodged a diplomatic note of concern in 2012 to the Indonesian government but this needs to be pursued,” Toropo said."
Waiting eight years for Big Brother to reply? And there are several known logging projects (some alleged to be illegal) in the hinterland around the Fly River bulge.
I am sure the loggers, legal or otherwise, and their military backers are eyeing the huge river as a far better source for shipping out the logs and other resources from Indonesia's Papua Province.
Apparently a road is being constructed paralleling the border and we can expect more military border posts to follow and more letters of concern to be sent from Waigani. Noel Levi must have smiled when he read the Torasi base story.
I just hope the lone PNG policeman at Morehead, or is it Weam, has his baton ready to defend his patch.
Posted by: Arthur Williams | 28 November 2020 at 09:22 PM
Garn, Robin, not much will be done on said shores, maybe not even when mudflats are topped for airstrips and ports.
Posted by: Lindsay F Bond | 28 November 2020 at 03:02 PM
Information in the excerpts below give voice to concerns from Liberia over threats to fishing sustainability in their region arising from the potential of licensing foreign vessels to harvest.
In the impoverished economies of many present day states, the need to protect and retain local fisheries is of great importance.
Arrival of Chinese ‘supertrawlers’ raises concern in Liberia
The licensing of six new vessels would place a strain on fish populations and threaten local livelihoods
Lucinda Rouse July 30, 2020
"The arrival last month ( mid-2020) of six Chinese-flagged trawlers caused alarm in Monrovia, the capital of the West African nation of Liberia, over their potential to affect local fisheries and communities."
"The size and fishing capacity of the so-called supertrawlers is of a scale previously unknown in Liberia, with a greater level of sophistication than the current fleet of industrial vessels that target demersal fish such as snapper and grouper, species that local fishermen in wooden canoes depend on for their livelihoods."
"Even operating outside the zone carries risks for local fishing communities. The new vessels “may scoop up juvenile fish that would be needed by coastal communities,” said Steve Trent, executive director of the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), which recently launched a project designed to support community management of Liberia’s fisheries and reduce instances of illegal fishing."
"Licensing the new vessels would be “running a major risk,” said Trent. “Why would anyone want to send a valuable product and food away from the country at this time?"
“If the maximum sustainable yield is wrongly calculated, which is a probability, stocks will collapse.”
Posted by: Robin Lillicrapp | 28 November 2020 at 07:20 AM