Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 803

1a) Solomon Islands iwetim help bihain bigpela guria

Updated 8 February 2013, 14:42 AEST

Sam Bolitho

Planti tausan pipal long Solomon Islands istap nau long ol tens na oli sot tru long kaikai na gutpla wara blong dring.

Solomons quake 2013 friday

Remains of household in Venga village (Credit: ABC Licensed)
Odio: Premier Brown Beu ibin toktok wantem Sam Bolitho.

Long Solomon Islands oli ting, bai oli no nap bringim kuik ol relief saplai igo long ol pipal blong Temotu Provins em guria na tsunami ibin hamarim long  despla wik.

Premia blong provins, Brown Beu, ibin mekim despla toktok tede.

Ofis blong National Disasta Management Ofis long Honiara ibin redi-im relief saplai na putim long wanpla boat blong bringim igo long Temotu tede long avinun.

Oli bin kliarim planti pipal long ples balus, tasol wanpla balus emi bin wok long karim ol gavman ofisa ino bin pudaon long wonem sampla guria ibin kamap ken.

Planti tausan pipal istap nau long ol tens na oli sot tru long kaikai na gutpla wara blong dring.

1b) MSG to step up engagement with the people of Kanaky
By Online Editor
09:13 am GMT+12, 08/02/2013, Fiji

Assisting the people of Kanaky in New Caledonia integrate with Melanesian governments and their private sector will be among one of the priority areas the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat will focus on in the coming year.

Director General, Peter Forau recently told PACNEWS the MSG will step-up its engagement with the people of Kanaky, to prepare them for 2014 when the local Congress will determine a timeline for a  referendum for full emancipation.

“We’ve got an approval from our members to accept people from Kanaky to be seconded or attached to governments or to the private sector in the different capitals, to expose them to leadership roles in all aspects of governance to prepare them for the processes in 2014.

“We are providing financial resources as well as facilitating placement for Kanaky’s in all our capitals. So that process will be substantially increased this year as our Leaders want us to expand our involvement with them.

Last month an FLNKS unit was set up within the MSG Secretariat in Port Vila, headed by a Kanaky national, Jimmy Nauona, to co-ordinate the work of the MSG in relation to the political developments in Noumea and Paris.

“We are very grateful that one of the member governments has agreed to fund the new unit. That’s an expression of deep support for the people of Kanaky, said DG Forau.

In addition, the MSG will also step up its advocacy for full independence for the indigenous people of New Caledonia through member’s diplomatic missions at the United Nations in New York.

“We will continue to work with the Committee of 24 at the United Nations through our Ambassadors in New York, co-ordinated by Ambassador Thompson of Fiji. They are doing a very good job making sure the issue of Kanaky continues to feature in the discussions there.

Later in the year, a joint high level mission comprising MSG Leaders and the UN Committee of 24 will visit New Caledonia to monitor the Noumea Accord, said Forau.

“That mission is going there to assure people on the ground that Melanesia is standing with the FLNKS.

“During our last mission, we spoke to the government of New Caledonia and representatives of the State (France) about the key issues for the Kanaky, making sure that they are able to get their desired goal of full emancipation. I think that sort of discussion keeps reminding them that the issue is of key interest to all of Melanesia, said DG Forau.

Forau assured the people of Kanaky their full emancipation remains a core issue for Melanesia.

“If there was an issue that came up that will perhaps disrupt the process in achieving full emancipation , then it will fall on our members to rekindle that process to make sure that happens, said Forau.


2) Killing prompts PNG call for court to hear sorcery cases

Posted at 03:10 on 08 February, 2013 UTC

Papua New Guinea police have suggested a special court to hear allegations of sorcery.

This comes as the police commissioner, Tom Kulunga, has condemned the killing in Mt Hagen of a woman accused of sorcery.

20 year old Kepari Leniata was stripped naked, tortured and set on fire on Wednesday.

Police say they will arrest and prosecute the murderers but spokesperson, Superintendent Dominic Kakas, says the commissioner also wants a wider discussion on sorcery.

One of his suggestions is for a court to defuse the increasing violence around sorcery.

Mr Kakas says some Papua New Guineans genuinely believe in sorcery but there is no court to hear their allegations.

“They believe that someone has cast a spell on them but who will listen to them? The courts will not allow evidence. You have got to produce evidence in court and so on and so forth and basically, in some way the commissioner was saying we should explore perhapds an avenue for people to actually let out their frustrations and maybe we can find a solution to this.”

Radio New Zealand International

3) Rio Tinto considers restarting Papua New Guinea copper mine

By Online Editor
08:56 am GMT+12, 08/02/2013, Papua New Guinea

Rio Tinto is looking into restarting its Panguna mine in Papua New Guinea, one of the world’s largest sources of copper and gold until the company abandoned it a quarter century ago after local villagers chased off workers in a secessionist uprising.

A new study by Rio Tinto’s majority-owned subsidiary Bougainville Copper Ltd says the mine on Bougainville island still contains at least 5 million tonnes of copper and 19 million ounces of gold, worth US$41 billion and US$32 billion, respectively, at today’s prices.

Renewed interest in the Panguna mine comes as Rio Tinto, which is expected to report a 20 percent drop in annual profit to around US$10 billion on Feb. 14, has earmarked a greater focus on its copper and iron ore businesses in the coming years.

Rio Tinto has long-shunned returning to the island despite an end to hostilities in 2001 and discussions from time to time with the government. In 2005, it sold its stake in another mine in Papua New Guinea’s Lihir island.

There has been no exploration or mining at Panguna because the site remains off-limit despite the formation of an autonomous island government.

Between 1972 and 1989 some 3 million tonnes of copper and 9.3 million ounces of gold were mined from the Panguna lode.

The potential for a restart could only be fully assessed once it was safe to return to the mine, according to Peter Taylor, managing director of Bougainville Copper, which owns the Panguna mine.

The new estimate for copper and gold “supports consideration of a number of potential development options”, Taylor said in a statement.

“BCL (Bougainville Copper) continues to work with stakeholders on exploring ways in which the project may be advanced,” Taylor said.

Bougainville Copper’s income is now generated primarily as interest revenue on a range of investments. In 2000, it began to dispose of its Bougainville assets and has since developed a portfolio of debt and equity investments.

For the year ended December 31 2012, it posted a loss of K5.4 million, or about US$2.6 million.


4) Philippines, PNG looking to fishing agreement

By Online Editor
08:54 am GMT+12, 08/02/2013, Philippines

The Philippines government is tackling a decline in its fish production by seeking agreements with neighbouring countries that have vast shorelines and abundant marine resources.

Philippines agriculture secretary, Proceso Alcala, says Papua New Guinea could be one of the first countries to sign on to the agreement.

Alcala says the Philippines hopes to sign a fishing and agricultural deal with PNG soon.

Manila is in talks with the Pacific nation to be granted fishing rights for a fee.

The Philippines has also suggested extending technical assistance to PNG in its rice production, using the Philippines’ expertise and technical know-how in agricultural farming.

Fish production in the Philippines fell by nearly four percent in 2012 due to a closed fishing season on several areas in its high seas to allow the fish to spawn.

The fishing ban that began in November is expected to be lifted this month or in March.


5) 6.6 aftershock in Solomons as death toll rises
By Online Editor
09:10 am GMT+12, 08/02/2013, Solomon Islands

A 6.6-magnitude aftershock has struck off the coast of the Solomon Islands, following Wednesday’s deadly earthquake and tsunami.

Today’s quake, which struck at 7.59am near the Santa Cruz Islands, was centred 36km south-southwest of Lata at a depth of 10km.

Aid workers have struggled to reach remote, tsunami-ravaged villages as the death toll rose to at least nine as more bodies were found in wrecked homes and debris in the South Pacific country Thursday.

The victims, including a child, were killed when a powerful earthquake set off a small tsunami that sent 1.5-metre waves roaring inland on Santa Cruz Island, in the eastern Solomons, on Wednesday. Around 100 homes across five villages were damaged or destroyed.

The waves proved deadly for five elderly villagers and a child, who weren’t fast enough to outrun the rushing water, said George Herming, a spokesman for the prime minister. Three more bodies were found on Thursday, but Herming said details of how those victims died were not immediately available.

Several others are missing and dozens of strong aftershocks were keeping frightened villagers from returning to the coast, Herming said.

“People are still scared of going back to their homes because there’s nothing left, so they are residing in temporary shelters on higher ground,” Herming said.

The tsunami was generated by an 8.0-magnitude earthquake that struck near the town of Lata, on Santa Cruz in Temotu, the easternmost province in the Solomons.

Disaster officials were en route to the isolated area on Thursday after the local airport, which was flooded by the tsunami, was finally cleared of debris.

The Solomons comprise more than 200 islands with a population of about 552,000 people. They lie on the “Ring of Fire” – an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones that stretches around the Pacific Rim and where about 90 percent of the world’s quakes occur.

More than 50 people were killed and thousands lost their homes in April 2007 when a magnitude-8.1 quake hit the western Solomon Islands, sending waves crashing into coastal villages.


6) More volcanic activity in Solomons quake zone

Posted at 03:11 on 08 February, 2013 UTC

The National Disaster Management Office in Solomon Islands says volcanic activity has increased on an island in Temotu province since the magnitude 8.0 earthquake two days ago.

Sipuru Rove says the uninhabited island of Tinakula, which is about 50 kilometres north of Lata, has being making loud and strange sounds.

He says help and information is needed from technical experts to assess the risk posed to the local community by the volcano as they are worried an eruption could be near.

“The volcanic activity on one of the islands that is off Lata is alarming at the moment. And this will really require scientific special people to assist us in assessing this volcanic activity which is beginning to be abnormal.”

Sipuru Rove says there are also significant aftershocks which meant a plane with supplies and medical staff couldn’t land and was forced to return to Honiara.

Radio New Zealand International

7) More than 3,000 without shelter in Solomons amid continuing shakes

Posted at 03:11 on 08 February, 2013 UTC

The Solomon Islands government has officially declared a state of disaster for Santa Cruz Islands in Temotu Province following Wednesday’s 8.0 magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami that claimed lives and property.

The minister responsible for disaster management, Bradley Tovusia, made the declaration following a decision reached by the National Disaster Council yesterday.

The premier of Temotu province says 3,100 people are now without shelter as they brave continuing shakes after this morning’s shallow aftershock.

Father Charles Brown Beu says people fled again to higher ground after the 6.7 quake, the largest following Wednesday’s 8.0 earthquakes and subsequent tsunami.

Red Cross relief workers with supplies are expected to arrive on the Santa Cruz group’s main island tonight and Father Brown Beu says the 5,000-strong population of the provincial capital urgently needs fresh water and food.

But he says the greatest need is for waterproof shelters.

“We put up temporary tarpaulins but it’s no good for rain, it’s just for the sun. A lot of people as we are talking are getting wet up in the bush. People are virtually – only the clothes they were wearing they were able to secure and there is no covering for these children.”

Father Charles Brown Beu says the effects of the tsunami and earthquakes in more remote parts of Temotu province are still unknown.

Our correspondent George West says the town of Lata is empty as the few people who ventured to return after the tsunami two days ago are now retrieving their belongings and heading back for higher ground fearing another tsunami.

“The people are in fear and moved up the mountain then some of them trickled down back. But today all of them packed up and got back to the mountains. It’s a bit difficult now to reassure them to return. They are packing up what ever they can and they are camping up along the main road of the Santa Cruz plateau. It’s like they are going to stay there for another week until the situation calms down.”

George West says the hospital has been evacuated to an outdoor clinic with some patients having intravenous drips strung up in trees.

Radio New Zealand International

8) Election petition against Vanuatu PM struck out

Posted at 03:11 on 08 February, 2013 UTC

Vanuatu’s Supreme Court has struck out a petition against the Prime Minister Sato Kilman which challenged his eligibility to stand in the last general election.

The constitutional application against Mr Kilman was brought by a Port Vila MP, Willie Jimmy, who alleged that the Prime Minister hadn’t settled an outstanding debt of about 120,000 US dollars in government rent before he contested the October election.

Mr Jimmy and other candidates in the election were made to settle their debts before they were allowed to stand.

However Justice Robert Spear ruled that Mr Jimmy is not eligible to challenge the election of Mr Kilman because he didn’t contest the same constituency which in the Prime Minister’s case is Malekula.

The petition was accordingly struck out.

Radio New Zealand International

9) Solomon Islands appeals for aid after tsunami

Updated 8 February 2013, 12:07 AEST

The death toll following an earthquake and tsunami in Solomon Islands is expected to rise as emergency teams reach the remote communities affected by the disaster.

The death toll following an earthquake and tsunami in Solomon Islands is expected to rise as emergency teams reach the remote communities affected by the disaster.

The 8.0-magnitude quake struck near the Santa Cruz islands on Wednesday, and triggered a one metre high tsunami that travelled half a kilometre inland.

A spokeswoman for the Disaster Management Office in the Solomon Islands says nine people have died and two are missing.

World Vision estimates that 700 houses have been damaged or destroyed, and more than 3,500 people have been affected.

The Premier of Temotu Province, Charles Brown Beu, says assessment teams have reported that six villages have virtually been wiped out.

He says basic aid is desperately needed.

“Everything they own has been lost,” he said.

“Clothes, pots and plates and everything else, household goods, even money that was kept in the houses. No chance to retrieve these things. So it’s clothing, it’s cooking utensils, it’s water, and it’s food.”

Irene Scott, an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development in Honiara, says police expect that death toll to rise over the next few days.

“Police are literally hiking into these areas and camping in the bush overnight just to try and get to the villages that have been affected,” she said.

“So that death toll will most likely go up as they reach other affected villages.”

The Governor-General of the Solomon Islands says Queen Elizabeth is saddened to hear of the death and destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami.

His Excellency Sir Frank Kabui says Queen Elizabeth’s prayers and thoughts are with all those affected.

Australian assistance

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr says Australia stands ready to help with the relief effort.

Audio: Richard Marles speaks to Pacific Beat’s Bruce Hill(ABC News)

“We’re ready to offer assistance which would include emergency food and shelter, medical supplies and help with reconstruction,” he said.

Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles, says an Australian hercules aircraft has flown over the devastated area.

“This is the better part of 700 nautical miles from Honiara itself. It’s actually closer to Vanuatu than it is to Honiara,” Mr Marles said.

“And there are going to be remote villages there, that it’s going to take some time to get to, and until we get to them we’re not actually going to know what the full extent of injury and loss of life is.

“We’re working very closely with the Solomon Islands, we’re trying as best we can to get the information, as indeed they are. As soon as we’re in that position we’ll be providing that assistance.”

Audio: World Vision teams head to Santa Cruz islands (ABC News)

World Vision says debris and high water levels are cutting off access to some areas.

Emergency response

The Provincial Disaster Officer on Santa Cruz island, Frank Menoia, says the runway on the island has now been cleared.

He says a plane carrying emergency teams and supplies is scheduled to arrive early Friday morning.

A boat has left the capital Honiara on Thursday to take emergency supplies to Lata, and is expected to reach the disaster zone on Saturday..

Yesterday, the airfield in Lata was cleared of debris and civil aviation authorities have given approval for relief supplies to be flown in.

World Vision’s Solomon Islands Director, Andrew Catford, says they hope a Dash 8 plane will arrive today.

“That should assist with being able to bring in some supplies,” he said.

“We have some water containers and some shelters coming in on that, but basically until that flight gets in its really been about the local people and the local stakeholders, including the local authorities [are] just making the best they can of the situation.”

10) Vanuatu gov’t revokes 74 Scholarships
By Online Editor
1:46 pm GMT+12, 08/02/2013, Vanuatu

A total of 74 students who were awarded scholarships by the Vanuatu Government have had their scholarships revoked after Education authorities discovered they allegedly did not comply with the right procedures to be awarded a scholarship.

Director General of Education Jesse Dick told Daily Post that although their names were approved a final decision was made to cancel their scholarships because they were placed under the “ineligible category” and failed to meet the requirements qualifying them for a university entry.

Despite the cancellation of the 74 scholarships, the DG of Education was happy to say that the Government has awarded scholarship opportunities to 171 students who wished and deserved to further their studies in different Universities this year.

The process of finalising the approved names of the new intakes was completed last week and was done according to availability of the Government fund, according to DG Dick.

“21 Francophone students have already left for New Caledonia last week while we selected 40 best students who have just completed Year 13 South Pacific Secondary School Certificate (SPSSC) last year,” the DG said.

The DG also said they have approved the names of 121 eligible applicants, however, due to financial constraint, scholarships awarded to teachers employed under Teachers Service Commission and Government employees under the Public Service Commission would be suspended, and they would continue to be employed in their jobs.

The teachers would be placed in the schools they taught at last year. This makes a total of 171 approved scholarships altogether funded by the Vanuatu Government.

The DG of Education also informed the Vanuatu Government owes Vt24million to some of the Universities but settled all payments two weeks ago.


11) NZ couple flee to Vanuatu owing $2.5m in tax
By Online Editor
1:49 pm GMT+12, 08/02/2013, New Zealand

A married couple have moved to Vanuatu after leaving behind a string of collapsed businesses which owe nearly NZD$2.5 million to the New Zealand taxman.

Ross Harold Fitches and Christine Angela Fitches have been banned from running businesses in New Zealand after five companies they were directors of went into liquidation.

One example of poor management was the withdrawal of NZD$200,000 from a company account treated as a “personal cashbox”, says the prohibition report.

The five businesses run by the Fitches, which included a motel and a bowling alley, also owed NZD$2.5 million in unpaid taxes.

The Taupo couple were among 27 people banned last year from running a company, according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Someone can be banned as a director for up to five years if two or more firms they run are put into liquidation.

To avoid being struck off, a director has to prove his or her alleged mismanagement was not to blame for the insolvency.

Fitches was banned for four years and nine months after five companies went into liquidation. Fitches, a director of two of those companies, was banned for four years and three months.

Documents released to the Herald under the Official Information Act reveal the couple, who are also bankrupts, left New Zealand before they were banned.

The last point of contact they gave the former Ministry of Economic Development was a postal address in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

The couple said the global financial crisis was to blame for the insolvency of Lakeland Enterprises, Revenire, Rochis, Twin Peaks Enterprises and Wyndham Street Properties.

But the mismanagement by Mr and Mrs Fitches was “serious and fundamental”, according to the report of Peter Barker, deputy registrar of companies.

This included their failure to:

* Understand their obligations to preferred creditors such as Inland Revenue.
* Maintain sufficient financial records.
* Understand legal obligations for each company.
* Act in the best interests of the company.

In respect of Rochis, Barker said that the liquidators had discovered that the current account was overdrawn by NZD$206,042.

“I consider that directors using creditors’ money for their own purposes is mismanagement and is not in the best interests of the company.

“I consider that there may be other directors who choose not to recognise that each company is separate from the other and that a company is separate from its directors and shareholders.

“Such people have a propensity to treat each company as their personal cashbox, as occurred with Rochis”

Barker said Rochis owed NZD$2.2 million to the IRD and Lakeland Enterprises a further NZD$275,000.

He said he would ban the Fitches as directors to protect the public.

“My original view was that if I had the ability to impose a period greater than five years, I would have done so.”.


12) Fiji State Land Bank Asks Landowners To Make Deposits
Ministry says idle, unused lands needed for development

By Maciu Malo

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb. 7, 2013) – The government is asking indigenous Fijian, or iTaukei, landowners to deposit land into the land bank because almost all of Fiji’s State lands have been leased out.

Director for Lands Mosese Tagicakibau said State land covered a small percentage of Fiji’s total land mass.

“We hardly have any State land available for leasing since we only administer less than 5 percent of the country’s total land mass,” Mr. Tagicakibau said.

“Native land make up more than 83 percent of the land mass in Fiji while freehold land has around 9 percent,” he said.

“Most of the State’s land has been leased out and the only development we currently have is the foreshore reclamation.

“In fact, this is also another reason we have set up the Land Use Department to identify all idle and unoccupied Native lands for State’s use.

“That is the reason we are also investing Native lands into the land bank, to accommodate applications for Crown lease,” he added.

The ministry will also face another challenge in securing 5,000 acres for the 50 agriculture scholarship students of the Fiji National University (FNU) expected to graduate at the end of the year.

As announced in last year’s national budget by Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, students graduating in the agriculture scholarship scheme would get a loan of FJ$70,000 [US$39,521].

Commodore Bainimarama said this would allow them to buy 100 acres of farm land, a house, a shed, a tractor and basic farm implements, fertilizer and other necessary materials plus FJ$2,000 [US$1,129] start up cash.

He said the students would learn a variety of farming skills during their one year course.

The program will be launched by Commodore Bainimarama at the FNU Koronivia campus today.

Fiji Times Online:

13) Fiji Authorities Satisfied With Public Response To Tsunami
Disaster management office says traffic in CBD still an issue

By Tevita Vuibau

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb. 7, 2013) – Fiji’s National Disaster Management Centre (DISMAC) commended members of the public for their response to the tsunami warning issued to the country after an 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Solomon Islands.

DISMAC director Manasa Tagicakibau said the centre noticed an almost immediate response from people in the Central Business District once the tsunami warning was announced.

“The public response was commendable. As soon as we issued the tsunami warnings, we noticed that people started moving to evacuation areas,” Mr. Tagicakibau said.

“Given the time we forecasted for the first wave to hit and gauging the public response, I must again say that it was commendable.”

He said government ministries with their tsunami evacuation plans were quick to respond to the warnings with schools in coastal areas also implementing their respective tsunami drills.

However, Mr. Tagicakibau conceded there were issues with evacuation procedures that still needed to be dealt with.

One of these, he said, was traffic congestion.

“We will look to work closely with police in our national debrief regarding this issue as we noticed that there was a lot of traffic congestion and this was hindering people’s ability to get to safe zones,” Mr. Tagicakibau said.

He stated that government was making efforts to mark safe zones and danger zones for tsunamis and this would help alleviate the problem. “In future, roads leading to these safe zones will become one way, allowing traffic easier access.

“What we saw today (yesterday) was that as people were trying to get to safe zones, there was also traffic going in the opposite direction and this caused some of the congestion,” Mr. Tagicakibau said.

The tsunami warning was issued for the country yesterday after the massive earthquake struck Santa Cruz in the Solomon Islands.

The first wave was forecasted to reach Fiji at 4:05pm yesterday.

However, the warning was later cancelled by the Department of Mineral Resources after the wave failed to eventuate.

Fiji Times Online:

14) Timor Leste gives fisheries a boost with first “No Take Zones”
By Online Editor
1:33 pm GMT+12, 08/02/2013, Timor-leste

Conservation International Praises Launch of Community-Based ‘No Take Zones’ To Protect The Productive And Healthy Coral Reefs That Support Its People, Its Development And The Second-Most Biodiverse Populations Of Reef Fish In The World

Marking a significant day in the ten-year history of the nation of The Republic Democratic of Timor-Leste, Conservation International (CI) applauds its government for the establishment of the nation’s first ‘No Take Zones’ (NTZs), where fishing restrictions and other protective measures have been put in place to enable the replenishment of fish stocks and the protection of coral reefs that support local people. The protective measures are aimed at conserving the as-yet unrealized value of Timor-Leste’s marine-based natural capital, which is essential for the food security and economic development of one of the world’s newest and least developed countries.

The announcement of these zones was made by the Timor-Leste Secretary of State for Fisheries, Rafael Periera Goncalves in an event held today in Com, a coastal community five hours from the capital of Dili. The event was attended by Judith Fergin Timor-Leste’s U.S. Ambassador, Rick Scott, USAID Mission Director, senior officials from the Timor-Leste Government and community leaders, in demonstration of the joint commitment which has brought about these important management improvements.

The seven ‘No Take Zones’ are embedded within broader multiple-use marine protected areas, covering 207 square kilometers of coastal waters of the Island nation’s only National Park. The zones encompass important coral reefs which help maximize climate resilience, serve as reef fish spawning sites, enable fisheries replenishment, and protect key dive and snorkel sites for tourism purposes.

Rafael Gonçalves, Timor Leste’s Secretary of State for Fisheries and Aquaculture said, ‘We appreciate the interest in the development of fisheries sector in Timor-Leste, this sector that plays an important role in the prevention of malnutrition, food security and livelihoods of fishermen and people of Timor-Leste.’

“Today’s launch of the No Take Zones holds great promise for the future of Timor-Leste’s marine environments and the contribution they can make to artisanal fisheries, local livelihoods and economic development,” said Conservation International’s Timor-Leste Country Director, Candice Mohan. “A well managed coastal ecosystem is extremely valuable. It can provide a sustainable supply of seafood, is critical for marine tourism, and increases the resilience of local communities to the pressures of climate change by ensuring diversified livelihood options.”

The announcement of the NTZs follows the results of a Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) marine survey of Timor-Leste’s coastal waters, carried out in August 2012 at the request of the Government and led by Conservation International (CI) with generous support from USAID’s Coral Triangle Support Partnership (CTSP) award. The survey was conducted by a team of international and Timorese scientists and the results showed that the coral reefs in Timor-Leste were some of the healthiest and most diverse in the world.

‘We found that the coastal waters surrounding Timor Leste contains the second-highest average of reef fish species per site for any region on Earth to date,’ said Dr. Mark Erdmann, a CI marine adviser and biologist. “This biodiversity also extends to the coral reefs, with three potentially new coral species identified.”

The survey results have increased Timor-Leste’s reef fish species records to a highly significant 814 species (six of which are likely new species), with visual counts averaging nearly 212 species per site. The coral reefs that were surveyed were also recorded as being exposed to cooler water temperatures than reefs in neighbouring countries.

This, combined with strong currents, is likely to confer strong climate change resiliency to Timor-Leste’s coral reefs, which help provide buffer against storms and serve as nurseries for locally-important fish benefiting human well-being in Timor Leste. With appropriate management, these resources hold significant potential for the food security and economic development of one of the world’s newest and least developed countries.

Secretary Goncalves, who invited CI scientists to return and complete the marine survey in areas not yet explored, said, ‘The Marine RAP was important as the information allows us to better understand our marine resources. ”

In response to the Timor-Leste Government’s plans for fostering tourism growth as a contribution to economic development, Erdmann also noted the great potential for marine tourism to work in synergy with improved protection and management efforts. ‘It is important to set clear regulations from the outset of such activities to ensure that local communities derive significant benefits from tourism in a way that encourages even better stewardship of their reefs’.

The ‘No Take Zones’ will be enforced through a co-management approach between local, district and national fisheries authorities, which are the result of the USAID-funded CTSP. The project has been supporting the Timor-Leste government and the fishing communities of Com, Tutuala and Lore to develop community-based marine management practices, centered on improved biological and ecological knowledge.


15) French Polynesia decolonisation on UN agenda, says Temaru

Posted at 03:11 on 08 February, 2013 UTC

The French Polynesian President, Oscar Temaru, has announced that his government’s resolution to re-inscribe French Polynesia on the UN decolonisation list has been lodged with the secretariat of the UN General Assembly

Mr Temaru has told the local assembly that this morning he received a phone call from New York that the resolution to that end will be on the General Assembly’s agenda when it meets from February the 22nd to the middle of March.

He says the resolution has been submitted for consideration by three countries, whose names he says he will disclose later.

Mr Temaru was in New York in December and again in January to lobby members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

There is moderate regional support for Mr Temaru’s initiative, with Australia and New Zealand siding with Paris in opposing it.

Territories on the UN list include New Caledonia and Tokelau.

Radio New Zealand International

16) US-sponsored summit in American Samoa gathers future leaders

Posted at 03:10 on 08 February, 2013 UTC

The American Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, David Huebner, says the young people at a summit in American Samoa will come away with a Pacific wide network of future leaders.

People from the 16 Pacific Islands Forum nations under the age of 25 have been meeting in Pago Pago at the inaugural Future Leaders of the Pacific Summit.

It is the brainchild of Mr Huebner who wanted to see the same sort of dialogue among young people as happens at the Forum leaders’ summit.

He says they have heard from several Pacific leaders and had discussions on key issues affecting the region but networking will be the biggest gain.

“So they will leave a little bit better informed but the most important is they will leave with a very large network of peer future leaders which spans the region, and we have set up a facebook page so they can stay in touch.We are hheavily using social media so that the network can continue and deepen as these young people move through their careers. And that is the real value we see in it.”

Radio New Zealand International

17) Samoa Police Move Against Illegal Roadside Vendors
Imported goods cannot be sold on street, says commissioner

By Lanuola Tupufia

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Feb. 7, 2013) – It’s illegal; that’s the warning from the Assistant Police Commissioner, Le’aupepe Fatu Pula, as Samoa police move to stop the selling of imported goods and products on the side of the road.

The warning was made during a press conference yesterday.

Le’aupepe is adamant that these “business-minded people” setting up small stalls along the roads of Apia will be charged if they continue to do so.

He pointed that the problem is they are blocking the road and obstructing the public.

From Friday last week, police officers have removed people by force and are clearing up footpaths in town where street vendors have been selling goods and products.

“It is illegal under the Police Offences law on Walking and Peddling Goods,” said Le’aupepe.

“The law only allows locally-made products like handicrafts, koko Samoa, talo chips and other goods made in our country to be peddled but only if they have a WST$50 [US$21] peddlers’ license.

“Other than that, products imported from overseas such as soft drink cans, umbrellas and all those things being sold on footpaths and in front of wholesales by other street vendors, are illegal.

“They are not allowed to do so. The police are now removing people selling these goods on footpaths by force.

“They are being given warnings and if they continue to ignore these warnings, they will be charged according to the law.”

According to Leaupepe, more than 10 people were taken to the police station while others were warned.

“Only one man has been charged after he was warned a number of times but was found still to be selling goods on the road,” he said.

Asked about wholesalers who are sending people out on the road to sell their imported products, Le’aupepe said this was also illegal.

He explained, “There are conditions on their license that the products and goods are to be sold inside the stores and not given to street vendors to sell on the road.”

Samoa Observer:

18) Report Claims 23 Percent Of Infants Obese In Am. Samoa
8-year study of 800 babies reveals ‘extremely shocking’ statistics

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Feb. 7, 2013) – A new study has found that up to 23 percent of babies in American Samoa are obese.

The research was conducted by Brown University in the United States and published in the journal Paediatric Obesity.

To conduct the study, researchers examined the medical records of nearly 800 American Samoan babies born between 2001 and 2008.

The team tracked the babies’ growth, weight gain, and whether they were breastfed, given formula, or a mix of both.

Lead author Nicola Hawley says about 23 percent of boys and 16 percent of girls in American Samoa are obese by 15 months of age.

“It was actually extremely shocking. We know that adult obesity the Samoas is particularly high – around 70 percent of Samoan women are obese,” she told Radio Australia.

“And so we expected that it might extend into childhood, but the levels of obesity we see in infancy are just so surprising.”

Ms. Hawley says maternal obesity is partly the reason.

“We know that there is a high level of overweight and obesity in women of child bearing age in Samoa, and we know that those women who are overweight and obese are the ones that tend to gain more weight during pregnancy, and they are also at risk of gestational diabetes during pregnancy.”

Radio Australia:

19)  Kiribati searchers seek Australian help

Posted at 03:10 on 08 February, 2013 UTC

A Kiribati fishing expedition has been lost at sea for four days, prompting the Kiribati Government to seek help from Australia.

The fishing crew left the capital of Tarawa Atoll on Monday morning, heading south towards Maiana atoll.

They were expected back by sunset but have not been seen since.

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand provided initial search area determinations, but could not commit the Air Force Orion as it is currently deployed to Solomon Islands after Wednesday’s tsunami that devastated coastal villages.

Kiribati has sent a request to Australia for assistance, after the United States Coast Guard in Honolulu was also unable to help.

Fishing ’drifters’ are common in Micronesia, with many small motored vessels leaving without spare fuel, oars, and other supplies.

The Kiribati Government is looking to change maritime laws to enforce safety standards on small boats and avoid costly search and rescue operations.

Radio New Zealand International

20) Nauru foreign minister Keke resigns

Posted at 03:10 on 08 February, 2013 UTC

Nauru’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade, Health and Sport, Dr Kieren Keke, has resigned from Cabinet.

The resignation was announced by the Speaker, Ludwig Scotty, at the start of Thursday’s parliamentary sitting.

No reason was given for the Dr Keke’s decision which came after an unsuccessful attempt by the opposition to remove the government through a vote of no confidence.

Radio New Zealand International

21) Vandalism, Break-Ins Costing Guam DOE $1.6 Million
Education official calls to support funding for security systems

By Louella Losinio

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Feb. 8, 2013) – School break-ins and vandalism over the course of three years cost the Guam Department of Education (GDOE) approximately $1.6 million, accounting for loss and replacement of property as well as labor and materials for facility repairs.

Robert Malay, GDOE deputy superintendent for Assessment and Accountability, reported the figures during a recent public hearing on Bill 1, which authorizes the Guam Economic Development Authority (GEDA) to procure security systems for public schools.

If enacted into law, the bill will allow the government to enter into an agreement with a contractor for the financing, design and purchase as well as installation and maintenance of electronic security systems for public schools.

Most of the incidents over a period of three years, 46 percent, took place in schools under the Lagu or northern district of the island. For school year 2012-2013, the figure is even higher at 64 percent.

Because of this, Malay said GDOE fully supports the bill.

“This would provide equipment that would help in the prevention of criminal activities in school grounds. Today, our public schools continue to experience a high number of school break-ins and vandalism,” Malay said.

The proposed investment and additional security, he added, will help to not only prevent loss and damage to schools, but also help reassure GDOE employees, children and families that the schools remain safe learning environments.


The sponsor of Bill 1, Speaker Judith Won Pat, pointed out that GDOE has often been in the news for vandalized facilities or stolen school property. She noted, in particular, the spate of copper wire theft incidents which occurred in December.

Around 11 school break-ins were noted in December, consisting mostly of copper wire thefts which hit several schools within a three-week period, during which GDOE also reported graffiti and stolen property incidents in two schools.

The spate of copper wire thefts spurred Won Pat to introduce the bill also known as the “Secure Our Schools Act of 2013,” co-authored by Sen. Tina Muña-Barnes.

During the public hearing on the bill, Won Pat said the purpose of the legislation is “to protect the 30,000 students, 40 schools, and all of the Guam Department of Education assets.”

Such assets include future laptops for students authorized by ARRA funding. However, Won Pat said GDOE won’t be able to move on in procuring these assets until an adequate security system is in place in the island’s public schools.

Marianas Variety Guam:

22) Detachment 88 ‘encouraging terrorist revenge attacks’

Updated 8 February 2013, 12:04 AEST
By Indonesia correspondent George Roberts

Indonesia’s Australia-funded counter-terrorism squad, Detachment 88, has been warned its policy of shooting terrorist suspects is encouraging more revenge attacks.

Detachment 88 have killed 90 terrorist suspects since 2002. (Credit: Reuters)

Indonesia’s Australia-funded counter-terrorism squad, Detachment 88, has been warned its policy of shooting terrorist suspects is encouraging more revenge attacks.

Since 2002 police from the Detachment 88 and other officers have shot dead 90 terrorism suspects.

The crack squad was trained and funded by Australia and other allies, but the International Crisis Group’s terrorism expert, Dr Sidney Jones, says its methods are prompting retaliatory attacks.

In a speech to journalists, she said Detachment 88 must “be careful about the way that operations are conducted so as not to give fuel to the jihadi movement that is still alive, even if not well.”

Audio: Listen to the story (AM)

Dr Jones says police became the number one enemy of terrorist splinter cells when Detachment 88 broke up a training camp in Aceh in 2010.

“If you figure there were nine groups or so operating there … everybody knew someone, directly or indirectly, that had been killed or arrested through that,” she said.

“So that’s when, more than any other time, the police became the number one enemy.”

She says that moved the focus away from Western targets, and there has been a correlating increase in targeted police killings.

“The more deaths that you have at police hands, is just going to increase that. It’s going to give more motivation to more people to get involved in the movement,” she said.

“Indonesia’s a place where we haven’t had really strong local drivers.

“There hasn’t been a rationale for why people would want to use violence.

“But once you get all of these people getting killed, it changes the equation, and it also brings more people into the possible recruiting pool.”

Indonesia’s National Police spokesman Boy Rafli told the ABC that Dr Jones’s opinion was not worth commenting on.

But last month Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), which was started by the convicted terrorist Abu Bakar Bashir, also warned of revenge.

Spokesman Son Hadi said shooting suspects was unlawful and would encourage more terrorism.

23) Australia confirms AusAID fund diversion details

Updated 8 February 2013, 14:15 AEST

Australia’s government has confirmed the details of a plan to divert AusAID funds to pay for the upkeep of asylum seekers.

Australia’s government on Friday confirmed the details of a plan to divert aid funds from the Pacific and South East Asia to pay for the upkeep of asylum seekers in Australia.

Last year, the government announced $375 million of the existing aid budget would be used to pay for the living expenses of asylum seekers being processed on the mainland.

It has now revealed that more than $50 million of that funding will be diverted from the Pacific budgets.

$38 million will be cut from the Indonesia budget, $10 million from East Timor, $14 million from Cambodia, $5 million from Burma and $6 million from Laos.

Head of CARE Australia, Dr Julia Newton-Howes, told Radio Australia’s Connect Asia she’s horrified.

“It demonstrates just how bad these decisions have been for the 1.3 billion people in the world who live on less than $1.25 a day,” she said.

In particular she pointed out that the very large cut to Australia’s humanitarian contribution means that some of the most vulnerable people in the world won’t get the level of assistance from Australia that was committed to at the beginning of the year.

“That’s very bad news,” Ms Newton-Howes said.

“The further information we would like is if for the government to identify not just how much has been cut from each country program, but what activities in that country’s program has been cut.

“What we are concerned about is that the money that’s most directly linked to poverty and poor people will be hardest hit.”

Dr Newton-Howes says it’s disappointing that the detailed information has not yet been made available and she would like this to happen as soon as possible.

“Because AusAID has a transparency charter where it commits to making information about its aid programs publically available,” she said.

She says that what constitutes foreign aid needs to be redefined.

“I think that including asylum seeker costs as foreign aid is inappropriate and should not be allowed to happen.”

24a) Bank South Pacific is major sponsor of 2015 Pacific Games
By Online Editor
1:44 pm GMT+12, 08/02/2013, Papua New Guinea

Bank  South Pacific (BSP) is the major sponsor of the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby.

The sponsorship was officially launched by bank chief executive officer, Ian Clyne, Minister for Sports and Pacific Games Justin Tkatchenko and Pacific Games organising committee chairwoman, Emma Waiwai at the Sir John Guise Stadium Thursday.

Clyne said after the launch work started now towards hosting the Games in the capital city.

“I cannot release any amounts here but we are committed and will be heavily involved in preparations leading to the Games. The successful completion of these games is our goal and commitment,” Clyne said.

“We will commit the BSP brand and our branches and reach throughout PNG and the Pacific to promote these Games in a positive and inclusive way.”

He said the bank had a reputation for producing high quality promotional and marketing events and were skilled and capable of working with the Port Moresby 2015 Pacific Games Committee to make it a highly successful and truly unique Papua New Guinean, Pacific and Melanesian experience.

He said the bank board unanimously approved and supported the move to be the official sponsor of the 2015 Pacific Games.

Sports and Pacific Games Minister Justin Tkatchenko said the bank had set an example and challenged other businesses to do likewise.

“This is a team effort, together without fear or favour, and there is no time to muck around. … we need 100 per cent commitment,” Tkatchenko said.

The next two years would be a mammoth task to get preparations in order.

Games Organising Committee chairwoman, Emma Waiwai said it was a historic occasion not only for sports and the 2015 Pacific Games but more so the Games movement since its inception in 1963.

Waiwai said there had never been a sponsor with the bank’s level of Pacific wide experience and capacity for community service so that the games experience could be closer to the people.

“This is great news for athletes, sports and sports administrators and all communities throughout PNG,” she said.


24b)Une jeune mère brûlée vive en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée

Mis à jour 8 February 2013, 10:11 AEST

Pierre Riant

Cette jeune femme de vingt ans ans, mère d’une petite fille de huit mois, a été accusée d’avoir tué par la sorcellerie un garçon de six ans.

Le garçon est décédé mardi à l’hôpital de Mount Hagen, dans la région ouest des Hauts-Plateaux. Les parents et les proches du garçonnet ont brûlé la jeune maman jeudi dernier dans une banlieue de la ville, devant une centaine de personnes.

Des spectateurs, dont des enfants, ont pris des photos de cette brutale tragédie.

Les bourreaux ont aussi torturé la jeune maman avec une barre de fer brûlante, avant de lui arracher ses vêtement, de lui attacher les mains et les jambes, et de l’asperger d’essence pour ensuite la jeter dans un feu sur un monticule d’ordures.

La police locale a condamné ce meurtre en précisant que l’affaire sera traitée comme un cas habituel d’homicide et que les responsables seront traduits devant la justice.

En Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, selon les croyances locales, la mort naturelle n’existe pas. On ne meurt pas de paludisme ou de typhoïde. On meurt parce qu’un sorcier ou une sorcière vous a jeté un sort.ère-brûlée-vive-en-papouasie-nouvelleguinée/1085632

24c) Fidji : L’Église et la police répondent à l’horreur

Posté à 8 February 2013, 9:52 AEST

Pierre Riant

Le viol d’un nourrisson de 9 mois a mis le pays sous état de choc et la police a appelé l’Église en renfort tandis que le nombre de viols signalés est à la hausse.

fijien bible bookchen com 20130208

Version Taukei (fidjienne) de la Bible. []

Pour l’inspecteur Atunasia Sokomuri, porte-parole de la police fidjienne, ce crime concerne l’ensemble de la société fidjienne.
SOKOMURI : « Les forces de police ont mené beaucoup de campagnes de sensibilisation et c’est la raison pour laquelle davantage de viols sont maintenant rapportés.  Je peux dire que ces campagnes de sensibilisation conduites par la police ont permis au public de mieux comprendre les lois qui gouvernent cette question et en conséquence davantage de personnes vont rapporter des cas dans les postes de police des villages à travers tout le pays. »
Atunasia Sokomuri estime donc que c’est le nombre de cas signalés qui a augmenté et non pas le nombre de viols.
Toujours est-il que les violences faites aux femmes et aux enfants est un problème qui concerne tout le monde dans l’archipel et que tout le monde doit donc lutter contre ces violences.
SOKUMURI : « Cette question a besoin des efforts combinés de toutes les parties prenantes du pays et surtout des églises ici à Fidji. Les églises ont un travail énorme. Comme vous le savez, les structures traditionnelles de la société fidjienne sont centrées autour des chefs coutumiers et des églises au sein de la communauté ou dans les villages. »
La puissante Église méthodiste de l’archipel dissémine d’ores et déjà des programmes contre la violence. Mais le Secrétaire-général adjoint de cette Église, Tevita Banivanua,indique que des hommes affirment leur autorité sur la femme avec une mauvaise interprétation de la bible.
BANIVANUA : « La bible est claire. Quand deux personnes s’unissent, c’est avant tout un partenariat. Et c’est à partir de là que l’on construit une famille. Personne n’a besoin d’être supérieur à l’autre. C’est comme cela qu’il faut interpréter la bible au lieu de dire que l’un est plus fort et l’autre plus faible.  Certaines personnes disent que l’Homme a été créé en premier  et que selon la bible la femme a été créée à partir de l’Homme et que les femmes sont donc un peu inférieures. C’est une mauvaise interprétation du texte car elle nie les intentions du créateur lui-même ou elle-même pour la race humaine. »église-et-la-police-répondent-à-lhorreur/1085616

25) Sport: Media ban imposed on Fiji Sevens team in Las Vegas

Posted at 00:25 on 08 February, 2013 UTC

A media ban has been placed on the Fiji Sevens team, who are refusing all interview requests ahead of the latest round of the World Series in Las Vegas.

All attempts to speak with the players and coaching staff in Las Vegas have been rejected, with team officials saying the blackout was implemented at the request of CEO Manasa Baravilala, who is with the team in the US.

Phone numbers for team liaisons in Las Vegas were given to media earlier this week but, when contacted, the liaisons said they had been told to direct enquiries back to the FRU office.

Attempts to contact Mr Baravilala have also been unsuccessful, while even some Fiji Rugby Union staff members were unable to get through to speak with coaches Alifereti Dere and Timoci Wainiqolo.

The team is under pressure after failing to make the quarter finals at last week’s Wellington tournament for the first time.

Radio New Zealand International

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