PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT
Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
CONVICTED SOLOMONS MP WARNS AGAI NST ILLEGAL
HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Sept. 20, 2010) – Newly appointed Fisheries Minister Jimmy Lusibaea has sent a clear warning to all foreign fishing vessels found fishing illegally in our waters that would be prosecuted if they are caught.
The warning came after Minister Lusibaea served letters to a number of foreign fishing vessels which have been alleged to have fishing illegal in the country.
Last week six Chinese fishing vessels become the first victims after the minister served their agents with letter to answer for the actions.
They could face prosecution if found guilty.
The action by the newly appointed Fisheries Minister shows how serious he is on obligations entrusted to him.
[PIR editor’s note: Jimmy Lusibaea, a former Malaita warlord during Guadalcanal’s ethnic unrest a decade ago, isCurrently Facing Murder Charges in connection with the killing of two special constables in 2002, prior to the arrival of the multinational force RAMSI on Guadalcanal. He was acquitted of similar charges in 2007. He is currently serving a five-year sentence for a 2000 robbery.]
Reports said last week, Minister Lusibaea executed letters to Chinese agents of six fishing vessels alleged to have fished in Solomon Islands waters without prescribed licenses.
"These six vessels and the two vessels that were arrested and charged early in the year, were eight vessels covered under the letter of comfort issued by the Director of Fisheries who is currently on suspension since in January 2010," the report said.
Under the Western and Central Pacific Commission (WCPFC) Convention, a State can seek listing of a fishing vessel suspected of Illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing in its territorial waters including the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on the WCPFC Blacklist of IUU Vessels.
The report added that Solomon Islands is seriously pursuing the listing of the six Chinese vessels on the WCPFC Blacklist.
Minister Lusibaea praised the leadership shown by his Ministry staff in their commitment to see that the Chinese vessels be held responsible for any offences committed in Solomon Islands waters.
"I am excited to see different ministries and regional institutions working together for common good of the country.
"Our letters to the vessels’ agents will give a strong signal to all other owners and agents of fleets fishing in our waters that they must abide by our laws and I’m expecting this from all fleets.
"I have been briefed also that FFA member countries are working together to strengthen cooperation on Monitoring, Control and Surveillance of our regional fisheries resources against IUU under one of our regional treaties, in this case, the Niue Treaty.
"This initiative received my full support," Minister Lusibaea said.
The Fisheries Permanent Secretary, Dr Christian Ramofafia, has confirmed to Solomon Star that the letters will be sent to the respective agents soon.
He further said that SIG is requesting China for a bilateral discussion on the matter with the intention to settle the matter outside of the WCPFC process.Solomon Star
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