PNG UNABLE TO DETECT ILLEGAL FISHING IN EEZ'

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By Peter Kasia

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (February 2, 1998 - Niuswire/The National)---Fisheries Minister Kala Swokin has admitted that Papua New Guinea does not have the capability to monitor its 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), The National reports.

Announcing last weekend the engagement of Ebit Systems Ltd., an Israeli company, to build a surveillance system under the National Fisheries Surveillance Project, Mr. Swokin said Papua New Guinea was currently unable to detect illegal fishing in its EEZ.

He feared that the illegal exploitation of the country's fisheries resources by foreigners would continue until the situation is remedied.

"At present our capability in terms of electronic surveillance and trained manpower to monitor and detect illegal fishing activities is very limited," he said.

The National Government had in 1996 decided to install a surveillance system to cover the entire EEZ. This system was also supposed to cover all disciplines including defense, police, immigration, health, quarantine, customs and fisheries.

The government had obtained a K16.56 million ($US 9.34 million) loan from the Union Bank of Switzerland. But the money has not so far been utilized and it is with the Bank of Papua New Guinea.

The minister did not reveal the work schedule of the Israeli company. However, he said the project is expected to be completed by the end of 1999.

Mr. Swokin said the project would help augment national security through an integrated enforcement system which, besides fisheries, would also accommodate the needs of other law-enforcement agencies.

He said the project would involve construction of surveillance points at Papa in Central province, Green River in West Sepik province and Putput near Kavieng in New Ireland province.

The surveillance nerve-center will be at the PNG Defense Force landing craft base here.

"I am very confident that once the project is completed, we will have one of the best and most efficient fisheries and national security surveillance systems in the region," Mr. Swokin said.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Ambassador to PNG, Shmuel Moyal, made a courtesy call on Mr. Swokin on Friday.

The minister told Ambassador Moyal that PNG had immense potential in the aquaculture industry but lacked the technology for its development and management.

He said the country was beginning to focus on the development of the aquaculture sector to make it capable of meeting the domestic needs as well as future global demands in terms of food security.

"We have vast areas of suitable land and water for potential development of fish farms for both fin fish species and invertebrates, such as prawns, oysters, trochus and so on.

"However, we lack the technology and expertise to develop our aquaculture sector. This is where PNG would look to Israel for assistance," Mr. Swokin said.

Title -- 1142 FISHING: Israeli firm to build surveillance system Date -- 2 February 1998 Byline -- Peter Kasia

Origin -- Niuswire Source -- The National (PNG), 2/2/98 Copyright -- The National Status -- Unabridged

This document is for educational and personal use only. Recipients should seek permission from the copyright source for reprinting. This service is provided by Journalism Studies, University of Papua New Guinea. Please acknowledge NIUSWIRE.

Queries: niusedita@pactok.net.au http://www.pactok.net.au/docs/nius/

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