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SUVA, Fiji Islands (January 18, 2001 - PINA Nius Online)---Fiji's interim government has approved the introduction of an environmental protection levy on vessels entering the country's ports.

According to a Ministry of Information statement, the need to introduce the levy is because:

* One of the major causes of pollution in the declared port areas is discharges from vessels -- both local and foreign;

* The protection of the port environment has been virtually neglected over the years because of its huge cost factor, lack of clean-up equipment and general absence of relevant information and interest to combat port pollution.

* The fines and penalties in existing legislation relating to pollution in the ports are meager (maximum of F$ 400/US$ 182.84) and insufficient to cover costs of any clean-up operation.

The levy will help to recover the high cost of purchasing capital equipment required to contain pollution and to meet the equally high costs of maintaining it, the statement said.

It also said other main causes of harbor pollution are:

* Land-based industries discharging their wastes and effluents directly into harbor waters, or into inland waterways or drains eventually leading into the harbors;

* And from the community at large throwing wastes directly into the sea.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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