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pacific BRIEFS: PM says sugar cuts will hit Fiji hard

Monday 16 February 2015 | Published in Regional


FIJI – Fiji’s prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, says Fiji will be facing a cut in its export returns from sugar before 2017.

Bainimarama told parliament this week the abolition of the European Union sugar production quota on September 30, 2017, would have adverse implications for Fiji. But he says the EU sugar prices are already under pressure, with significant falls in the past year. Bainimarama says the government had given just over US$100 million to the industry in 2010 and 2012 to help it with accumulated losses. He told parliament of the search for new markets and a shift from relying on raw sugar as a commodity, while it has also been fostering new plantings although numbers directly involved in farming cane continue to fall. In response the NFP leader Biman Prasad says what the industry needs is a long-term plan and he says he is willing to assist the government if it sets up a joint parliamentary committee.


PAPUA NEW GUINEA – A former Papua New Guinea cabinet minister, serving a jail term for misappropriation, has been found guilty of three more offences. The charges against Paul Tiensten relate to $US1.3 million that was earmarked to rehabilitate a run-down plantation in East New Britain province, but never reached the plantation’s owners. The Post Courier reports that Tiensten appeared before the National Court where he was charged with one count of official corruption, one count of obtaining goods by false pretence and one count of misappropriation. Justice Mogish said he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Tiensten abused his authority as Minister of National Planning and Monitoring by diverting the cheque into his own bank account, and said the action was dishonest and corrupt. Tiensten will be sentenced in April.

taiwanese boat arrested

MARSHALL ISLANDS – A Taiwan-flagged fishing vessel, its fishing master and radio operator have been arrested in the Marshall Islands for illegal fishing and interfering with fisheries observers. The vessel, Jih Yu 212, was arrested and searched earlier this week following a court order allowing its arrest and a search by police and Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority enforcement officers. On Tuesday, the fisheries department filed nine charges against Taiwan-based Chern Lung Fisheries Co. Ltd, which owns the vessel, its fishing master and radio operator. The company and fishing officers are faced with four counts of fishing without a licence and five counts of obstructing an observer in the performance of his duties. The vessel faces a maximum fine of US$6.5 million if found guilty of the nine charges.


NEW CALEDONIA – Scientists from four of the world’s biggest fishing nations have gathered in New Caledonia to start scrutinising decades of data on tuna catches. The scientists, from China, Japan, Korea and the United States, together with a group from Taiwan, are sharing previously confidential data. The first significant results are expected to be presented at a convention on tuna in August. Dr Shelton Harley, the principal fishing scientist at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, says the data will show the health of the bigeye tuna across the entire Pacific ocean.


TONGA – The Pacific Games Council says it is still confident Tonga will find the money required to host the 2019 event. The Kingdom beat out Tahiti in a vote at the Council’s General Assembly three years ago, despite not having secured the US$70 to 100 million required to cover the construction and operational costs for the Games. The Pacific Games Council have been in Nuku‘alofa this week meeting with officials including the Prime Minister and Minister for Sport about progress towards 2019. The Executive Director of the Games Council, Andrew Minogue, says the new Government remains committed to hosting the Games, and has a range of funding options. “There’s certainly a lot of detail around how that can be sourced. Particularly, at the moment, the Chinese government are looking at a big redevelopment of Tonga High School with sporting facilities.”