MADANG PROVINCE THREAT TO BURN ILLEGAL FISHING VESSELS

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MADANG PROVINCE
THREAT TO BURN ILLEGAL FISHING VESSELS

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Oct. 20, 1999 – The National)---Landowners from the Long and Crown islands near Raikos, Madang Province are threatening to set illegal vessels ablaze if caught fishing inside the 30-mile fishing zone.

Landowner spokesmen Albert Thomas and Joel Morel made their intentions known to The National yesterday after observing fishing vessels breaching the 30-mile restricted zones surrounding the two islands.

They claim these vessels are defying existing laws that prevent commercial fishing within the zone.

They claim the fishing boats are from a nearby cannery, though this could not be ascertained with authorities in Madang.

"We want these vessels to respect our rights to our own resources," said Mr. Thomas.

Long Island is about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of Madang and is about 22 kilometers (13.2 miles) from the Saidor government station. Crown Island is about 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) west of Long Island and is a well-known local fishing area and an exotic diving spot, which attracts many international divers.

Both men called on the National Fishing Authority to investigate the matter, threatening to take the matters into their own hands otherwise.

"We have seen fishing vessels fishing at Crown Island every night. It’s like a big city of its own in the open sea," said Mr. Thomas.

"If nothing is done about this, we will take the law into our own hands by burning the ships," said Mr. Thomas with Mr. Morel nodding approvingly.

Meanwhile, R.D. Tuna Cannery spokesman Stotick Kamea denied that cannery's vessels are fishing in the waters, adding that their fishing vessels operate under strict regulations.

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

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