PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Sept. 20) – The Papua New Guinea Government should seriously look at establishing a permanent patrol boat base in Vanimo to stop illegal Indonesian fishermen poaching our fish and other marine products.

They are coming in increasingly big numbers, undeterred by any presence of police and fisheries officials in the border region.

This is an issue of serious concern to Papua New Guinea and should also be raised at diplomatic level to the Indonesian Government. Indonesia has to tell its fishermen to respect Papua New Guinea’s territorial borders and not cross over to catch fish as they are doing at present.

It seems the stepping up of security and surveillance around the waters between the northern tip of Australia and Indonesia has now forced the Indonesian fishermen to switch to the northern waters of PNG where surveillance is almost non-existent.

We commend our police and fisheries officials for the recent arrests of some of the fishermen but the point is that without adequate resources to sustain the monitoring and surveillance of the border waters, these fishermen are going to continue to come and fish out our seas.

We need round-the-clock surveillance of the waters around both Western and Sanduan Provinces to stop illegal fishing in our waters. If our own authorities do not stop these fishermen soon, they are going to fish out all the fish from those provinces and move on to other maritime provinces.

Authorities need to do a careful check on areas around Bensback in the Western Province where the fish stock in the rivers have been fished out allegedly by illegal border crossers from Indonesia. The same has allegedly happened to the deer population in the same area.

The lack of sustained surveillance of the border region by our security forces is allowing Indonesian citizens to illegally cross over to this side of the international border with the knowledge that they will not be caught.

PNG and Indonesia have established cordial relations over many years. They have agreements in place to respect each other’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty. That is why our own authorities must raise issue with their Indonesian counterparts about the illegal fishermen continuing to disregard the common border and coming to fish in PNG waters. This situation makes one wonder whether the proposal to build a highway linking PNG and Jayapura is based on sound judgement or could this lead to far more serious problems than PNG can handle.

September 20, 2006

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