News (Melanesian/Pacific ) 2 October 2012
By Online Editor
3:34 pm GMT+12, 02/10/2012, Papua New Guinea
After decades of maintaining a relatively neutral stance, the Papua New Guinea government will finally make a strong representation to Indonesia to raise concerns over alleged human rights abuses committed by the Indonesian military in the West Papua region.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said in an interview with EMTV on Friday that the Foreign Affairs Department will deliver a diplomatic note expressing the concerns of Papua New Guinea citizens over the two Melanesian provinces of Papua and West Papua to the Indonesian government.
The response comes days after representatives of more than 4000 Lutheran women called on Peter O’Neill to look into the difficulties faced by West Papuans.
The public appeal for government attention to the West Papuan cause was made by Rose Muingepe, a Lutheran Women’s representative who was attending a conference in Mumeng outside of Lae City.
“We are asking the government to raise the plight of the West Papuans on the floor of Parliament. We know that women are being raped, men are being tortured and we want our government to pay attention to the issue.
Prime Minister O’Neill said a diplomatic note would be passed on to the Indonesian government through PNG’s Jakarta embassy.
“We need to respect international conventions made in organisations like the United Nations. We also need to respect that Indonesia is a part of those organisations.
“Through those conventions we will deliver a diplomatic note raising the concerns of our citizens over some of the reports that we are getting from West Papua on human rights abuses.”
This is the first time, in years that a Papua New Guinean prime minister has acknowledged human rights abuses in Papua.
Prime Minster O’Neill will also be bringing the West Papua issue to the attention of the Indonesian President in an upcoming democracy conference in Bali later this year.
SOURCE: EMTV/PACIFIC SCOOP/PACNEWS
2) PNG population growth an immediate threat
By Online Editor
3:33 pm GMT+12, 02/10/2012, Papua New Guinea
Australia’s peak scientific body says Papua New Guinea’s growing population is more of an immediate threat to the region’s sustainability than climate change.
James Butler, leader of CSIRO’s environment and development team, who released the report, says the window of opportunity for aid spending on the problem is “pretty small.”
“We’ve probably got about 10, 15, 20 years to really get it right,” Butler told Radio Australia’s Asia Pacific.
Papua New Guinea’s last census in 2011 by the World Bank found that the country had just over 7 million people, and increase of 1.8 million from 2000.
Butler says when population growth is combined with climate change, natural resources, particularly around the coast, will come under extreme pressure.
“There’s no question over the centuries people in Oceania have coped with all sorts of tsunamis and volcanoes and earthquakes and so-on and are actually very adaptable in some ways,” Butler said.
“But the problem is if you increase population pressure on top of that, it makes basic services like electricity and water and so-on much harder to provide.”
Butler says there can be great variation in people’s vulnerability across a very short distance.
“The approach we’re trying to introduce is a much more fine-grained analysis of the places that are most vulnerable.
“In West New Britain…we’re discovering that there are one or two places which are extremely vulnerable and in general these tend to be the highly populated coastal regions or small islands just off shore.
“These places need to have very specific strategies designed for them based on those very specific impacts that we’re projecting.”.
SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS
South African company to conduct feasibility studies in 2013
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 1, 2012) – The South Africa-based miner Harmony Gold has announced that the Wafi-Golpu gold and copper deposit in Papua New Guinea could support a mine worth almost 10 billion U.S. dollars.
Harmony, which is equal partner with Australia’s Newcrest Mining in a joint venture to develop the Morobe province deposit, says this resource could provide up to 560,000 gold ounces and 335,000 tons of copper annually.
The mine has an expected 26-year life and will cost US$4.85 billion to bring to production with a projected start-up in 2019.
Mining.com reports Harmony Gold as saying it will embark on a feasibility study next year with a focus on enhancing gold recovery.
The company says discussions with local landowners are ongoing.
PNG’s government has the option to take a 30% stake in the Wafi-Golpu mine at any time ahead of the start of production.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
Skippers banned from sailing ships
Two ship captains have been banned from sailing any vessels for two years.This was in relation to the MV Solfish 001 sinking on May 23 this year.
They were Captain Michael Galo, who skippered the ill-fated vessel, and Captain Walter Puhi, skipper of MV Ortega, for refusing to offer help during the tragedy.
Solomon Islands Maritime Safety Administration (SIMSA) took the decision based on recommendations from an inquiry into the May tragedy.
SIMSA director Edward Tokuru says Puhi’s ship MV Ortega, which is owned by Isabel Development Company, was the nearest vessel to the scene of tragedy.
But he said Puhi refused to help when marine authorities asked him to go to the scene.
Mr Tokuru said it was an international requirement that all sea fearers had to respond to any ship that is under distress.
Galo was punished for sailing an overloaded ship.
Solfish 001, owned by business giant Lee Kwok Kuen, sunk in open waters between Makira and Temotu provinces due to rough weather..
It was on its way to Temotu.
All 49 passengers and crew survived and were later rescued.
Both Galo and Puhi hold class 4 master qualifications.
Galo confirmed his suspension, and added “I was terminated, not suspended”.
He said if he was to skipper a ship again, he had to start all over again by taking courses at the Marine School or overseas.
Puhi could not be reached for comments, but his employer confirmed the skipper had been banned for two years.
By Elliot Dawea
5) Solomons PM Supports Independence For New Caledonia
PM Lilo touts self-determination at UN general meeting
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 1, 2012) – The Solomon Islands Prime Minister says his country supports New Caledonia’s aspirations to self-determination.
Gordon Darcy Lilo had been speaking at the General debate of the 67th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.
Mr. Lilo told the Assembly that last month members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group undertook a second visit to the French Territory to monitor progress under the Noumea accord.
“We encourage all efforts to enable the Kanaks to assume leadership in determining their future. Solomon Islands also joins its regional neighbors in supporting the re-inscription of French Polynesia on the United Nations decolonization list.”
Mr. Gordon Darcy Lilo also says his country supports the independence and the sovereignty of Fiji.
He says his country will continue to have a dialogue with Fiji.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
Foreign minister to file defamation suit against PM’s secretary
By Ricky Binihi
PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Oct. 1, 2012) – Allegations made by Vanuatu’s Prime Minister’s Office that Foreign Affairs Minister Alfred Carlot appointed Phocea owner Anh Quan Saken as ambassador to Peru and the United States of America are “totally rubbish.”
And the Minister has instructed the Vanuatu Police Commissioner to investigate the First Secretary of the Prime Minister’s office Mr. Richard Kaltongga on charges of defamation.
In a press statement to the media outlets this week Mr. Kaltongga said Minister Carlot made serious allegations against Prime Minister Sato Kilman and Opposition Leader Serge Vohor that they sold Vanuatu Passports but did not substantiate the claims.
Mr. Kaltongga said the Prime Minister had during an earlier meeting of Council of Ministers in which the Foreign Affairs Minister was present, delivered a clear directive to all ministers that no more diplomatic appointments would be made or diplomatic passports issued to private individuals unless such person’s appointment had been approved by the Council.
“The Prime Minister’s Office is aware that Pascal Saken had received approval from the Council of Ministers for his appointments as Honorary Consul to Vietnam however in accordance with diplomatic protocols, that appointment is not valid unless his name has been approved and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam which to date has not been received.
“The Prime Minister’s Office is also aware that Minister Carlot has granted further diplomatic appointments to Mr. Pascal Saken which have not received any consideration, endorsement or approval from the Council of Ministers as well as making some Trade Commission appointments which are usually the responsibly of the Minister of Trade,” Kaltongga alleged in his statement.
And Mr. Kaltongga produced documents alleging the Foreign Affairs Minister appointed Saken as Ambassador-at-large in Peru, Ambassador-at-large- South America and Peru, Ambassador-at-large USA, Vanuatu Commissioner of Trade, Business Development and Culture for South America Colombia and Peru, and Vanuatu Commissioner of Trade, Business Development and Culture for Central America and Panama.
“This is the first time I have seen these documents,” was the response the Daily Post received from Minister Carlot when he was asked in his office if he could confirm the alleged appointments.
Daily Post understands the Department of Foreign Affairs officials have verified the documents and found them to be forgery as the appointments were not made on Foreign Affairs letter heads.
The question now asked by everyone is how the First Secretary of the Prime Minister could have access to the forged documents.
Meanwhile Minister Carlot has confirmed to the Daily Post that he recommended that businesswoman Madame Ti Tam Goiset be removed as Vanuatu’s Roving Ambassador to Russia but the Prime Minister’s Office insisted she remained.
Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com
7) Government calls on Fijians to unite
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
OVER the past years there has been lack of support and unity for Fiji Day and this time the government is fully focused on changing this trend.
Speaking at the launch of the Fiji Day media campaign in Suva yesterday, Information permanent secretary Sharon Smith-Johns said Fijians needed to put their differences aside and unite.
“Over the past few years there has been lack of support and unity for Fiji Day and this year it’s like a reset. We want to start again. We have to start looking at our nation with pride,” she said.
With this year’s theme — Celebrating a United Fiji — Ms Smith-Johns has called on all Fijians to participate in the celebrations.
“We have come a long way in the past 42 years. When most countries celebrate their national day everyone comes together and that is where we would like to see Fiji Day start to develop,” she said.
“I urge all businesses to get involved in Fiji Day. If we can get the business and the whole community behind this, it will start to be a ground of national pride.”
She said from government’s perspective they would like to see Fiji flags and the colour blue and white everywhere.
National celebrations will take place on October 10 with a march from the Suva Flea Market to Albert Park where the official celebrations will take place. Celebrations will also be held in Labasa, Lautoka and Levuka.
8) Fiji Times Ltd found guilty
By Online Editor
12:44 pm GMT+12, 02/10/2012, Fiji
High Court judge William Calanchini has found Fiji Times Limited, the owner of The Fiji Times, guilty of contempt of court.
Justice Calanchini also found the Publisher at the time, Brian O’Flaherty, and the newspaper’s Editor Fred Wesley guilty of contempt.
The case concerned a sports article about former Fiji Football Association President Dr Muhammad Smashed-Dean Sahu Khan who had been found guilty of professional misconduct by the Fiji Independent Legal Services Commissioner and struck off the roll of lawyers in Fiji.
The article was about his continued role at that time with the Oceania Football Confederation.
It was originally published in New Zealand newspaper and reprinted in The Fiji Times on 7 November 2011.
In his judgement Justice Calanchini said the publication of words attributed to Oceania Football Confederation secretary Tai Nicholas amounted to a contempt of court because a “fair minded and reasonable person reading those words would conclude that the words must mean that those who claim to be performing judicial functions in Fiji are not in fact a judiciary at all”.
He said the words understood in this way represented a “real risk to the administration of justice in Fiji by undermining the authority, integrity and impartiality of the court and the judiciary”.
Justice Calanchini found O’Flaherty and Wesley were also legally liable as publisher and editor according to strict liability principles even though neither was on duty on the day the article was prepared for publication.
He said The Fiji Times’ systems for avoiding breaches of the law “at the time was either ineffective, unsupervised or not sufficiently monitored”.
He said “in my judgement whatever the reason, the responsibility for the publication of the material must be borne by the both publisher and the editor”.
Fiji Times Limited was represented by QC Julian Miles while acting Solicitor-General Sharvada Sharma represented the Attorney-General.
The court is to set a date for mitigation before sentencing.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
Minister says U.S. sanctions could jeopardize 15,000 jobs
By Reginald Chandar
SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Oct. 1, 2012) – Fiji’s Foreign Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola yesterday pledged to the United Nations General Assembly in New York yesterday to uphold the rights of the nation’s workers.
Speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama in the face of union action in the United States next week that could jeopardize the jobs of 15,000 Fijians, Ratu Inoke launched a strong defense of the Government’s labor reforms in a wide-ranging speech.
He said the only restrictions on unions in Fiji were those that were generally accepted to protect the public good and the rights of those workers who chose not to affiliate with unions.
“The Bainimarama Government’s commitment to a future of equality and opportunity for all Fijians includes ensuring that the rights of working people are protected and extended.
We seek to ensure that unions can take collective action as directed by their member workers,” he said in his speech.
[PIR editor’s note: Fiji Trades Union Congress leader Felix Anthony, however, claims the interim government has “systematically repressed trade union and workers’ rights” through a number of official decrees over the last three years.]
Ratu Inoke said the Government envisaged that the new Constitution would also ensure workers’ rights.
“We expect the new constitution to help us to continue to build an environment that promotes safe working conditions, protects workers from arbitrary actions and allows workers to form unions.”
“As part of Fiji’s return to democracy, the Government was reviewing the country’s labor laws to ensure that they complied with 34 conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) that Fiji had ratified.”
“The tripartite Employment Relations Advisory Board was a key participant in this process. In this year alone, Fiji has ratified or adopted eight ILO instruments, as recommended by the tripartite board, including the Maritime Labour Convention 2006,” he said.
He stressed the government’s overall approach to labor relations was to empower ordinary workers.
“The Bainimarama Government is committed to protecting workers who are fortunate enough to have jobs and to ensuring that all workers receive fair wages. We are equally committed to creating employment opportunities for the young and less affluent.”
A Fijian Government delegation is heading for Washington next week to defend an attempt by the Fiji Trades Union Congress to stop Fiji from benefiting from the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Scheme, which, since 1976, has given certain Fijian exporters duty free access to the United States.
The 39 Fijian companies at risk of losing their preferential access to the U.S. market are warning that 15,000 workers could lose their jobs if the action succeeds.
10) Stakeholders present on Fiji economy decline
By Online Editor
3:22 pm GMT+12, 02/10/2012, Fiji
The University of South Pacific Tuesday held its first ever Fijian economy discussions at the Holiday Inn in Suva where speakers from various Universities in Fiji, civil society groups and government ministries presented their views on the country’s current economic status.
Dr Sunil Kumar, a senior lecturer at the School of Economics in USP argued that more in-depth analysis should be done on the primary factors in the sugar sector.
His presentation was based on the Economic survey of Fiji and stated that public reforms, political reforms and preparations for the 2014 general elections should start immediately to further boost the confidence of Fiji’s economy.
“The development of the new Constitution should be completed in time, security should be provided to the environment in terms of crime and property rights, clearance processes need to be simplified and fast tracked in the business environment and should build capacity and market synergies in specific sectors,” Dr Kumar said.
In a response from Government, Luke Koroisave of the Ministry of Planning stated that the decline of the Fijian economy from 2007-2011 is due to global crisis.
He said that investment target of 25 per cent has not been achieved by the Fijian government since 1981 and the total investment has been on the decline for the last three decades since 1977.
“Weak macroeconomic performance for the past 18 years has been recorded by the government due to political instability, weakening export base, lack of labour skills due to migration and high utility cost are some of the reasons for the weak performance,” Koroisave said.
Koroisave further said that the current government is working according to its strategic plan which includes reforms done to Rewa Diary, improving the Fiji Sugar Corporation infrastructures and the increase in rice farming in the Northern division.
SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS
11) Former Commonwealth Secretary-General McKinnon concerned about Fiji
By Online Editor
10:21 am GMT+12, 02/10/2012, New Zealand
As the University of Canterbury’s conference on democracy on the Pacific approaches, former Commonwealth Secretary-General Sir Don McKinnon says Fiji continues to worry a lot of people.
For 25 years, racial and political tensions in Fiji have been a steady source of instability and international isolation.
In 1987 a coup by indigenous Fijians overthrew the elected, Indian-dominated coalition.
A further coup in 2000, led by businessman George Speight, saw the country’s first ethnic Indian prime minister, his cabinet and several MPs held hostage for several weeks. Rancour persisted, resulting in a bloodless military takeover in 2006.
Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth three years ago but Fiji has promised to hold free elections in 2014, prompting Australia and New Zealand to restore diplomatic ties.
What worries us most about Fiji is the principal lack of democracy,” said Sir Don, who will attend the Pacific conference on democracy at the University of Canterbury (UC) on October 18 and 19.
Countries survive for a while in dictatorial way but in the end people want a say who represents them. They have no formal structures it is that much harder to get them functioning again.
The balance of power between indigenous Fijians and Indian Fijians has proven to be a real problem since the first coup back in 1987.
Fiji is not dissimilar to Mauritius, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago with split populations. It is not a point of tension but the fact is always there. They are not always the same in views,” Sir Don said.
With sanctions, Fiji has been hampered by persistent trade and budget deficits, making it one of the world’s largest per capita recipients of aid. Prime Minister John Key has said New Zealand would not take it for granted Fiji would hold elections in 2014.
Sir Don said Fiji was not the only Pacific island with political challenges. The Solomons was fairly fragile in its governance facing all sorts of pressures while it recovered from a civil conflict that brought it to the brink of collapse.
More than 90 percent of the islanders are ethnic Melanesians, but there has been intense and bitter rivalry between the Isatabus on Guadalcanal, the largest island, and migrant Malaitans from the neighbouring island. Australian military intervention restored calm in 2003 and their troops are likely to withdraw in 2013.
Civil war left the country almost bankrupt, and post-election riots in April 2006 sent the country backwards financially. According to the World Bank, the Solomons are one of the poorest countries in the Pacific.
Sir Don said Vanuatu could surprise from time to time and Papua New Guinea (PNG) always surprised. Up to 20,000 people were killed in the nine-year conflict which ended in 1997 on the PNG island of Bougainville in the 1990s.
Sir Don said poverty was a serious issue in the Pacific, with a lot of poor people behind all the tourist areas.
Despite encouragement to take holidays in these places, behind these lovely beach resorts a lot of people are really scratching a living. These are our Pacific neighbours and we need to care for them where we can.
New Zealand aid was constantly looking at programmes to alleviate Pacific poverty when I was the Commonwealth Secretary-General. While these people live in comfortable climate with good growing conditions, many face subsistence living.
Major General Sitiveni Rabuka, who led two military coups in Fiji, will be one of the key speakers at the conference. Rabuka, who went on to become the country’s elected prime minister, is one of a many Pacific leaders who will be attending the conference.
12) U.S. Generalized System of Preferences decision to affect 75,000: Fiji’s PM
By Online Editor
10:24 am GMT+12, 02/10/2012, Fiji
Eight percent of Fiji’s population will be affected if the country is no longer an eligible country under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences, says Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.
He revealed this in a statement as a high level Fijian delegation left for Washington D.C to participate in the U.S government’s public hearing concerning whether Fiji provides internationally recognised workers rights to its citizens.
Bainimarama said his government’s commitment to a future of equality and opportunity for all Fijians includes ensuring the rights of its working people are protected and extended.
“The government considers it paramount to safeguard the livelihoods and jobs of Fijian people,” he said.
“We are very concerned about the potential impact of losing duty-free entry for so many of Fiji’s products into the U.S market if Fiji is no longer an eligible country under the U.S Generalized System of Preferences.” “15,000 jobs could be lost among thirty-nine companies that export products using this preference and there could be indirect losses also.”
“Fiji is a family-based society. The loss of these jobs would affect 75,000 people – which is more than eight percent of our population – because of the multi-generations of family that live together and depend on the family’s breadwinner,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, as the Australian Government moves to ease sanctions against Fiji government to encourage democratic elections, unions are calling for tougher measures.
The ACTU is supporting a campaign by American unions to turn up the heat on Fiji’s military strongman, Frank Bainimarama.
Today in Washington, the US government will conduct public hearings into whether Fijian exports will continue to benefit from duty-free access to American markets.
Fijian trade union leader Felix Anthony is in Sydney, seeking support from the Australian Government for the American unions’ action against Fiji.
“What it does is basically removes collective bargaining altogether, and also nullifies all collective agreements that have been in place over decades.
“I firmly believe that the country is far worse off than it was six years ago. The people in the country are worse off than they were six years ago and the longer the regime stays, the worse we believe it’s going to get,” Anthony told ABC Late line
The ACTU President Ged Kearney supports getting tough on Fiji and says that recent moves by the Australian Government to lift some sanctions against the military regime are a step in the wrong direction.
“The whole international labour community is very, very concerned about labour rights in Fiji, but not only that, but human rights more broadly. We’ve got churches, community groups, women’s groups all decrying the regime’s violation of human rights in that country,” She said.
The push for trade barriers against Fiji is not winning the support of Australia’s Foreign Minister.
“The Australian Government rarely imposes sector-wide tariffs as sanctions against countries because they can hurt ordinary people’s lives,” a spokesman for the Foreign Minister Bob Carr said.
The Fijian government says it’s working on a new constitution and will introduce Fiji’s first national minimum wage, but local unions remain unconvinced.
“What we fail to understand is why cannot this regime respect workers’ rights today? Why does it have to wait for a new constitution to do that?” asked Anthony.
The President of the Fiji USA Business Council, David Voss, says it will be a long road ahead for companies in Fiji exporting to the United States if they lose the benefit of duty free trade with America.
Voss said businesses are very annoyed at the prospect of losing their benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences
“It gives businesses here an opportunity to get into the United States. It’s a growing market there. We have certain companies here like Fiji Water, Pure Fiji, they do cosmetics,their market is growing all the time. To lose that edge then they have to rethink their whole strategy.”
Voss said nearly three quarters of the companies in Fiji which export to the US under the scheme have no other export market.
SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/ABC/ RNZI/PACNEWS
13)Marshall Islands to host South Pacific Tourism Organisation meet
By Online Editor
10:13 am GMT+12, 02/10/2012, Marshall Islands
One of the smallest member states of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) will benefit from the series of workshops and meetings to be held in Marshall Islands from 09 – 11 October.
SPTO confirmed that a series of tourism workshops and meetings will be held on this atoll state starting from the 05 – 11 October 2012.
These events will include the 22nd Meeting of the Board of Directors and the Council of Tourism Ministers which will be held on the 10-11October at the Marshall Islands International Convention Center in Majuro.
The meeting will be jointly hosted by the Marshall Islands Government and SPTO.
According to the Chief executive officer of SPTO Ilisoni Vuidreketi, the meeting will be attended by all Board Directors and Tourism Ministers from Pacific Islands member countries including new members.
Vuidreketi said the Tourism Ministers meeting will discuss various issues that concern the marketing and development of tourism in the region as well as the organizations work programme and budget for 2013.
“The meetings will present the government and the tourism industry in Marshall Islands with the opportunity to learn firsthand what the organization has to offer and what to expect out of SPTO work programme and projects in years ahead.
“The highlight of the meeting will be presentations on EDF10 (Project Regional Tourism Capacity Programme –PRTCBP) activities Progress and Updates, the Application from Government of FSM and Timor Leste for Government membership in SPTO, the discussion on Cruise development programme for the region etc,” Vuidreketi said in a statement.
Prior to the Board and Council Meetings, SPTO in collaboration with the Marshall Islands Visitors Authority will be running a separate tourism industry workshops to be held at the Marshall islands Hotel on the 5th October, 2012 where presentations will be made by SPTO staff on the Marketing and Development role of SPTO as well as an Overview of EDF10 PRTCBP, an initiative that is welcomed by Marshall Islands Tourism Industry
On the 9th October, 2012. Another important workshop is being organized by SPTO and will be funded under EDF10 PRTCBP. The workshop will discuss “SPTO Strategic Review Report and Business Plan” and will be attended by all stakeholders including selected tourism private sector representatives and Board Directors from around the region. The participants in the workshop will be provided with the opportunity to comment on the report and provide inputs.
Preparations for the workshops and meetings are advancing according to plans and Marshall Islands Organizing Committee is working around the clock to ensure that all arrangements and logistics for the meeting are well in place.
The hard work of the South Pacific Tourism Organization in partnership with all it’s stakeholders from the National Tourism Offices and the regional tourism industry have paid off with an increase of 7% increase of visitors to the region covering the period 2010 to 2011. Of particular interest, is the positive increase in arrivals in smaller members of the organisation.
14) 50 percent less coral in Great Barrier Reef
By Online Editor
3:26 pm GMT+12, 02/10/2012, Australia
Coral cover in the Australian Great Barrier Reef has been reduced to half of what it was in the 1980s, an alarming new study has found.
According to a paper from researchers at the Australian Institute for Marine Science, total coral cover in the region dropped from 28 per cent in 1985 to 13.8 per cent in 2012.
In effect, that means the total coral coverage has dropped by 50.7 per cent.
The figures are based on analysis of 2258 surveys of 214 individual reefs over the past 27 years.
Researchers say cyclones are responsible for 48 per cent of the loss, while crown of thorns starfish accounted for 42 per cent and coral bleaching the remaining 10 per cent.
Importantly, the study finds coral coverage would have grown during the same period were it not for the starfish.
Pesticide and fertiliser run-offs have likely increased the frequency of crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks.
The study says reducing the numbers of the starfish could improve the reef’s outlook, but only if climatic conditions are stabilised.
WWF Australia spokesman Nick Heath said the report showed the government needed to take immediate action to prevent chemical runoff reaching the reef.
“This latest research demonstrates that more decisive action to cut chemical fertiliser is urgently needed to prevent unprecedented and ongoing outbreaks of crown of thorns starfish,” he said.
The Queensland and federal governments are currently preparing a response to a UNESCO report which criticised the management of the reef and said coastal development in the area posed “serious concerns over its long-term conservation”.
UNESCO warns the reef could be listed as a World Heritage site in danger if “threatening” developments are allowed to proceed.
15) Sovu is Fiji’s Chef de Mission to 2013 Mini Games
By Online Editor
11:00 am GMT+12, 02/10/2012, Fiji
Veteran Netball administrator Alini Sovu has been named the Team Fiji Chef de Mission to the 2013 Pacific Mini Games in Wallis and Futuna from 02 – 12 September.
Announcing the appointment, Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC) president Vidhya Lakhan said Sovu was no stranger to sports administration, having previously served in various positions with Team Fiji and other sporting organisations.
Sovu, who was the Team Fiji general manager to the 2011 Pacific Games, is ready for the challenge.
She is the third woman to hold the Chef de Mission’s position with Sophia Raddock (Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games in 1994) and Glynis Miller (Olympic Youth team to the Singapore Youth Olympic Games in 2010) having served under the post previously.
“It’s a huge challenge given to me. I know the responsibilities that I need to take on in accepting this post,” Sovu said.
“I promise to do my very best in looking after the Team Fiji preparation and participation come September next year.”
Lakhan said FASANOC would now put together an administrative support and management team to assist the Chef de Mission in preparing Fiji’s participation at the Mini Games.
Fiji will participate in all eight sports, which includes athletics, beach volleyball, rugby 7s (men only), sailing, tae kwon do, va’a canoeing, volleyball and weightlifting.
Lakhan said they were looking at a maximum of 133 athletes representing the nation at the Mini Games.
A total of 219 athletes participated in 15 sports at the last Pacific Mini Games held in Cook Islands in 2009.
Fiji returned victorious from Cooks after topping the medal tally with 32 gold, 26 silver and 20 bronze medals.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
By Online Editor
11:42 am GMT+12, 01/10/2012, Papua New Guinea
Team Central will not fill international athletes for the PNG Games in November in Kokopo.
Acting-chairman Titus Hatagen and his management will be fair when selecting only talents from the district level to challenge the other centres.
Hatagen said the concept of introducing the PNG Games was to identify and tap into the grassroots talents in the district as an opportunity to promote, expose and develop at this level of competition.
He said the team would be finalised and announced today after the medical check at Laloki outside Port Moresby.
The chairman is appealing to the PNG Games Council to screen and stop all the international representatives from competing as this is unfair to the smaller provinces like Oro, Milne Bay, Gulf, Fly, Manus, East Sepik, West Sepik, Southern Highlands, Western Highlands, Enga, Simbu, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, New Ireland, West New Britain, Jiwaka and Hela.
“We have confidence in our rugby 7s to defend the gold medal (2009), boxing, league 9s, golf, soccer, volleyball, hockey, netball and cricket as medal prospects.
“Other codes are taekwondo, athletics, darts, paralympics, karate and basketball for a total of 14 sports.
“Players have prepared well and are looking forward to the games to better their records.
“Champions National Capital District, Morobe, Eastern Highlands and hosts East New Britain will be tough opponents,” Hatagen said.
The Central provincial government is the major sponsor of the team, allocating over K200,000.
Hatagen appealed to the business houses in Central and Port Moresby to support them in cash or kind.
He acknowledged the government’s allocation of K200,000 to subsidise airfares but said it was unfair for bigger centres with 300-plus athletes travelling compared with the smaller ones.
“Our total airfares amount to K440,000 which covers 50% of the cost but our team still has to chip in the balance. Team Central’s estimated budget is K1.4 million for the games,” Hatagen said.
Meanwhile, a police force of about 100 will keep an eye on the thousands of sports athletes, officials and visitors expected to travel to East New Britain next month to be part of the fifth PNG Games in Kokopo.
ENB provincial police commander Chief Supt Sylvester Kalaut, who was in Lae for the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary review of security operations in the national elections, said.
Requests from the police in the province have been made to the PNG Games host organising committee.
“It is estimated that more than 100 police personnel will be involved basically because of the huge numbers of people going into the province.
“We are expecting large numbers of people so we will need that manpower provide security and ensure an incident-free games,” he said.
“Preparations are well underway, people are happy.
“East New Britain is a peaceful province, I appeal to all those who are coming to observe the rule of law because police will be on hand to ensure there is no trouble and the games are played peacefully,” he said.
Kalaut said there was no need to send in additional police because ENB had an estimated 300 active and reserve personnel.
“We have our own local troops.
“We have two mobile squads in Tomaringa and I will utilise our manpower in the province so we see no problem with that.
“We want to ensure that everyone enjoy the games,” he said.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS