People from the area of Madang in Papua New Guinea are protesting government plans, supported by the World Bank’s International Finance Cooperation (IFC), to build large-scale industrial tuna canneries and docks, labeled the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ). Over 700 people showed up and marched at the Madang Provincial Governmental Headquarters on October 15th, despite the protest being banned by local police.
“In whose interests is the country being governed? A foreign power? Foreign business interests? Illegal immigrants?” opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta said in response to the protest being banned. “Certainly not for Papua New Guineans. Section 46 of our Constitution expressly provides for freedom of expression; Section 47 provides for the right to freedom of assembly and association; Section 57 provides for enforcement of these guaranteed rights and freedoms… This is yet another example of the trend of this Government of turning PNG into a Mugabe-type regime.”
Locals, many of whom depend on subsistence fishing, fear that the 300 million US dollar development would lead to overfishing and piracy of one of the world’s last undepleted tuna fisheries.
The development pushed by the federal government and Chinese backers would be one of the biggest in the region, employing around 30,000 people. But locals say many of those will be foreigners coming for unskilled work, and pay will likely be extremely low. They fear that the massive development would lead to social upheaval.
During the march people carried signs saying: ‘No more PMIZ’, ‘We want our land back – think about our future’, and ‘We do not want PMIZ – it will destroy our sea’. A formal complaint has been issued to the IFC.
One young person at the rally said, “They [the government] just want the money for themselves. They are not thinking of us or our future or what damage this project will do to the people of Madang.”
An international online protest is also occurring through the environmental organization, Ecological Internet . Federal government representatives criticized the involvement of NGOs on the issue. Commerce and Industry Minister Gabriel Kapris told the Pacific Scoop that “outsiders should stop misleading the people.”
The Governor of Madang province, Sir Arnold Amet, commented that having children involved in the marches was a form of “child abuse”.
(07/30/2009) New research reveals hopeful signs that overfished marine ecosystems can recover provided adequate protections. The two-year study, publish in the journal Science, found that efforts to reduce overfishing are beginning to succeed in five of the ten large marine ecosystems examined, suggesting that “sound management can contribute to the rebuilding of fisheries.”
(06/08/2009) In April marine scientist Jennifer Jacquet made the case on her blog Guilty Planet that people should abstain from eating seafood to help save life in the ocean. With fish populations collapsing worldwide and scientists sounding warnings that ocean ecosystems—as edible resources—have only decades left, it is perhaps surprising that Jacquet’s call to abstain from consuming seafood is a lone voice in the wilderness, but thus far few have called for seafood lovers to abstain.
(03/16/2009) Yesterday saw the launch of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). Composed of scientists, environmental organizations, and the tuna industry, ISSF will focus on ensuring that tuna populations are preserved from overfishing.