SHIP'S CAPTAIN IN HOT WATER OVER TORRES STRAIT TURTLES

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 14, 1999 - Post-Courier)---The man who captained a ship that caught 16 endangered green turtles near an island in the Torres Strait will be arrested and charged with his crew.

Officers from the National Fisheries Authority yesterday tracked down and almost arrested the captain of a ship that they thought was involved in illegally catching the turtles.

A senior officer from the National Fisheries Authority later told the Post Courier that they had now found that the company that owns the ship had two ships with the same name.

The name of the captain and the ship he captains is being withheld until arrests have been made.

However, he said the company (name withheld) had given an assurance that they would assist in arresting the captain and the crew whom they said had caught the turtles on their own and without any say from the company.

"The company does not support the actions of the captain and the crew and will be co-operating with us to arrest them,'' he said.

"We are not charging the company, but the captain and the crew of the ship.''

He said there was no need to carry out a search, which would be both costly and unnecessary, as the vessel was a domestic ship and would definitely be returning from an overseas trip. He said officers keeping a look out for the ship had been reliably informed that the ship was expected to arrive in Port Moresby soon.

The source also reiterated that marine turtles were protected under PNG laws and could only be caught using traditional fishing methods for consumption and not for commercial purposes.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

(SEE Pacific Islands Report of January 8, 1999)

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