Proposed Vanuatu Fish Processing Plant Worries Santo Residents

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Site prep allegedly underway without permits, environmental review

By Harrison Selmen

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, June 10, 2013) – Luganville communities including business houses have questioned the establishment of a proposed fish processing plant right within the town limits of Luganville.

This has raised concerns of pollution of the environment, destruction of waterways, fish stocks decimation and air pollution.

The people of Santo were this week surprised to discover that a fish processing plant was about to be built on Santo.

The concerns raised were that the selected site was not located where the environmental impact could be minimised.

The site proposed is Melcoffee Wharf within the town limits of Luganville, only 2km from the centre of town and fronting onto the most valuable waterway in Santo town, the Second Channel.

Concern was also over the fact that the area is surrounded by houses, resorts, schools and churches.

There was also concern that there has been no public debate regarding this proposal even though it allegedly has far reaching negative consequences to the people of Luganville.

A member of the Espiritu Santo Tourist Association found out about the fish processing proposal quite by accident.

It is alleged the vested interests behind the fish processing venture is a company of Chinese origin from Western Australia.

Daily Post was told that the containers containing machinery was delivered allegedly before the company even applied for approval to go ahead with the project.

Information is also at hand that some activities have started allegedly without the necessary building and development permits being issued.

It is understood the proposed fish processing plant intends to manufacture fish meal which is fed to animals and is allegedly a process that outputs considerable higher amounts of pollutants as well as decimating fish stocks because everything is caught and processed including small fish.

A reliable source said an environmental scientist based in Sydney that knows the Luganville area intimately on hearing of this proposal stated that this type of project will "undoubtedly denigrate the environmental integrity of the Luganville area".

The scientist added, "The attention of the council should be brought to Tulagi in the Solomon Islands.

"Everything around Tulagi is basically dead with the exception of the sharks attracted by the waste water."

There is a duty of care that Council and Government have to Vanuatu and they should not under any circumstances allow investors to set up businesses that destroy the environment, concerned investors in Santo said.

Daily Post has been informed that the company has made a development application to the Luganville Municipality on May 21, 2013- two weeks ago.

Work on the site is underway allegedly without any approvals or environmental assessment so far.

There is mounting pressure for the people of Luganville to oppose this fish processing plant at Melcoffee Wharf and to sign one of the many petitions being circulated. The Luganville business community is urging the authorities concerned and the government to really look into the matter before the people of Luganville could become victim to the impacts of the project in the future.

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