PAPUA NEW GUINEA WORRIES ABOUT ILLEGAL FISHING, DRUGS ON BORDERS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 11, 2001 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---Illegal fishing and drug smuggling through border provinces is a National Government concern, Papua New Guinea Provincial Affairs Minister Iairo Lasaro told the Papua Governors Council meeting in Alotau.

He said the situation cannot be helped because the government has no money to put into surveillance in the border areas of Milne Bay and Western province.

"Due to lack of surveillance equipment, manpower and financial resources it is difficult to effectively monitor illegal poaching in provincial waters or along the PNG jurisdiction line."

The Papua Governors Council called on the National Government to direct the Defense Minister to speed up the process of the establishment of PNG Defense Force forward operating bases in Daru and Alotau.

Mr. Lasaro said smuggling of prohibited items is continuing in the Torres Strait because Western province does not have the necessary surveillance facilities in place to monitor border activities.

He said PNG has a treaty with Australia, signed in 1978, whereby both governments agreed to cooperate in a wider range of fisheries activities, including quarantines and various other arrangements.

"International terrorism and drug smuggling is becoming an increasing problem for many countries.

"Experience overseas has shown terrorist groups often become involved in drugs to help fund their activities, and areas which have established histories of drug smuggling. Western province is also seen as having appropriate points where they believe government agencies are less vigilant.

"There are many targets of opportunity in PNG and, with the sophistication of modern weapons, anything can happen. Such activities could be a threat to the province as well as the nation," Mr. Lasaro said.

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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