VANUATU GROUP FILES SUIT AGAINST CHINESE FISHERY PROJECT

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (The Independent, Oct. 31) – Residents Against Processing Tuna in Port Vila has this week lodged a claim for judicial review of the Vanuatu project for the fishery at Blacksands, Mele Bay.

[PIR editor’s note: Mele is located northwest of the capital town of Port Vila on Efate Island in Vanuatu.]

Residents Against Processing Tuna says that the director general responsible for the environment unit has failed to require a full environmental assessment as necessary under the Environment Act.

Only a preliminary environmental assessment has ever been sought. It was compiled by government-hired personnel to report in favor of the scheme.

Residents Against Processing Tuna committee members have visited the site of the Chinese funded project and found that work is well advanced in spite of the legal requirement for a full assessment not having been fulfilled.

A sworn statement in support of the claim for judicial review was placed before the court.

It will be recalled that two months ago a public meeting organized by the Advisory Coalition on Economics in the capital almost unanimously resolved that action must be taken to ensure a full environmental impact assessment in view of the likely damage to the tourism industry, grave concerns about pollution and destruction of the pleasing environment of the capital.

Residents Against Processing Tuna also foresees a range of social and health problems emanating from the start of such an industry in Port Vila.

In another separate move, lawyer Silas Hakwa has put the issue of the land on which the fishery is being built back to the court because of a land dispute, which has not been resolved.

Hakwa told Radio Vanuatu this week that the matter of the 49-hectare parcel of land had gone before the courts in 2003.

Whilst still before the courts, in 2005, the land was improperly registered. Hakwa has been acting for his client since 2003.

He and his clients await the court judgment.

Papers from both Hakwa (for the custom owners) and Ridgway Blake (for Residents Against Processing Tuna) have now been lodged with the court and early hearings requested.

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