PNG FISH CANNERY GETS THE NOD FROM GOVERNMENT

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 17, 1999 - Post-Courier)---Papua New Guinea's fishing industry took another big step forward yesterday with the approval of an environmental plan for a new fish cannery and processing plant near Port Moresby.

Environment and Conservation Minister Herowa Agiwa issued the approval for the proposed "777" cannery at 17-Mile.

The two projects, costing K 7.5 million (US$ 3.22 million), are the brainchild of former politician and businessman Sir Hugo Berghuser.

Sir Hugo said that fish caught in PNG waters would be canned to meet the nation's need for high quality tinned fish, while the fish processing plant would package high quality yellow fin tuna and other tropical fish fillets for export to markets in Japan, the USA and Europe.

"Tinned fish produced from the cannery will be available in the domestic market in 2000," he said.

The fish plant will meet the specifications of European Union countries whose own experts are helping set it up.

"It is the first plant in the South Pacific to process and package fish fillets according to European Union standards," he said.

Sir Hugo is already involved in tuna fishing with three long-liners owned by his company, Blue Water Tuna Pty., Ltd.

The company exports 20 to 25 tons of high quality yellow fin tuna to Japan each month. It plans to add three boats and break into markets in the USA and Europe.

Mr. Agiwa said the company's environmental plan was "thoroughly assessed" by his department and was approved according to requirements of the Environmental Planning Act of 1978.

The department's main concern was about the treatment of waste from the two factories.

Sir Hugo said all waste would be processed as high quality feed supplement for pigs, while water from the factories would be pumped into special fish ponds to breed bait fish for the tuna boats.

Mr. Agiwa urged the company to keep strict control over environmental aspects, which are to be closely watched by the department.

He commended Sir Hugo for venturing into the industry which had the support of the Government, as the projects would help reduce the country's reliance on imports.

He told Mr. Agiwa of his plans to talk to the Manus and West New Britain governments about joint venture operations to increase tuna exports.

Sir Hugo urged the Government to help local people get into the fishing industry. He asked why it was more difficult for Papua New Guineans to be granted fishing licenses while foreigners got theirs easily.

Sir Hugo is confident that his 10-year experience in meat canning would be useful in keeping the same high processing standards and meet the country's demand for affordable tinned fish.

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

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