Inaugural Maritime Governors’ Meeting Held In PNG

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Inaugural Maritime Governors’ Meeting Held In PNG Despite importance of issues, only 6 of 15 officials attended

By Rosalyn Albaniel-Evara

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 7, 2013) – The inaugural Papua New Guinea maritime governors’ roundtable meeting got underway yesterday with only six governors in attendance.

A total of 15 maritime governors, provincial administrators and planners had been invited to attend this important meeting.

The meeting, made possible with support from the national Government, is supported by the US Agency for International Development through its Coral Triangle Support program and their local partner, The Nature Conservancy.

It is understood that several governors were unable to make it as they had prior commitments.

Several of the governors who had attended the meeting expressed disappointment at the turn out, especially given the urgency and importance of this meeting.

It had been staged in recognition of the importance of coastal and marine issues such as conservation, fisheries and climate change that reportedly now demands new approaches to governance in order to benefit the provincial and local communities.

Sandaun Governor Amkat Mai said the meeting was critical as it concerns the eco-systems and natural resources which directly support the livelihood of a vast majority of people from the coastal areas.

He said the maritime eco-systems faced many risk factors and support of political heads was needed to address these factors.

In this regard he said the turn out not to be good for the country.

"Six out of 15 is not good. It represents about a third of the maritime province. It would have been good to have at least 15 or 100 per cent attendance as our coastal people depend on marine life," he said.

Mr. Mai said illegal fishing was one major threat the Sandaun province was experiencing that resulted in the depletion of fish stock.

He said if this was his province’s experience then he believed it was also the same for the other maritime provinces and the way forward would be for a joint border team to be established to check on this illegal fishing in PNG waters.

The lack of concerted effort to safeguard our marine resources would continue to leave the seas open to poaches.

He said this meeting provided a forum for the governors from the maritime provinces to discuss, formulate and put in place policies and guidelines to at least minimize some of the risks posed to the marine life.

Mr. Mai hailed the meeting to be of great importance and urged the maritime provincial governors to provide funding support for the meeting to be held on a regular basis.

He said he would personally be prepared to support this cause.

Oro Governor Garry Juffa also hailed the meeting and had thanked Madang Governor Jim Kas for hosting it.

He said there were many activities taking place out on the sea that affect the marine life and resources.

Among those he highlighted were the country’s rapid growth in terms of its population, sea-bed mining which is being pushed by government, the pollutants which were being pumped into the sea to mention a few.

He openly regretted that not all maritime provincial governors had attended this meeting.

Mr. Juffa supported Mr. Mai’s suggestions for the meeting to be an on-going event and also urged that that they take action on whatever they discussed the meeting.

The six governors who attended the meeting are from Sandaun, Madang, Central, Atonomous Region of Bougainville, Northern and Milne Bay provinces.

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