PAPUA New Guinea will have no clear legislation that gives coastal communities a free hand to manage and conserve fisheries resources within the three nautical mile zone off their shorelines, unless the 2005 amendments to the Fisheries Management Act (1998) and the Fisheries Management Regulations are passed in Parliament.
This was revealed yesterday by the Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR) at a media marine conservation workshop.
CELCOR said the three nautical mile zone was according to the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which covered coastal and customary states which meant it belonged to, and must be used and managed by the local people.
Currently, the Fisheries Management Act (1998) is the main legal instrument providing the management and regulation of fisheries in PNG, including both inland and off-shore waters from 12 nautical miles up to 200s.
CELCOR indicated that to promote community-based fisheries management under the revision of the Fisheries Management Act, arrangements with provincial and local-level governments would be a step in the right direction where;
* The proposed revision of the Fisheries Management Act contains provisions that give this practice a proper legal basis.
* The National Fisheries Authority (NFA) may enter into agreements, memorandum of agreement or other arrangements with provincial and local level governments providing for the coordination of policies and activities with respect to the management and development of fisheries.
* The proposed revision of the Fisheries Management Act also provides a proper legal basis for community based fisheries management.
The main points of the new provision in the Act would be the following:
* To allow for a local community to apply for the designation of an area of marine waters under its jurisdiction as a community-based fisheries management area;
* The application would be made at the NFA, or at the provincial government or Local Level Government where powers have been delegated to them under a memorandum of agreement.
Meanwhile, CELCOR has been proactively involved in providing legal support and assistance to local communities for the past eight years, dealing with legal rights and awareness covering land, forest, marine and aquatic environments.
It provides legal assistance to landowners, NGOs and community groups affected by large scale environmentally destructive projects including industrial logging, mining and oil palm plantation developments and to promote community based natural resource management through promotion of effective law and policies.
This involves legal representation covering administrative and judicial cases and provision of legal advice and assistance to these groups.