The National- Friday, January 14, 2011
By RIGGO NANGAN
THE communities affected by Watut River in Bulolo, Morobe, are still waiting to see the implementation of the money meant for aquaculture sustainability projects in their areas.
The developers of Hidden Valley gold mine, Morobe Mining Joint Ventures (MMJV), have allocated K50,000 to the Morobe Fisheries Management Authority (MFMA) in 2009 as alternative for the destruction of marine life in the river system due to toxic contamination spill out from mining activities upstream.
Chairman of the upper Watut River Impact Association, Gewasa Tukwund, called on authorities and MMJV to come clear on what was happening to the monies and when or how the projects would roll out.
Tukwund said aquaculture training for inland fish farmers has been implemented in some villagers in the last few months like Mumeng, Timini, Kapin, Buang and others but these villages were not included in the affected communities.
He said inland fish farming should not be mixed with sustainability projects for the affected communities.
The most affected areas, he said, were from Latep village in the upper Watut to Samsam in the middle Watut areas where there was existing lakes and ponds created during the gold dredging days.
He said the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) livestock programme in Lae had conducted a feasibility study in 2007 and had found that fish in the existing lakes and ponds were being reduced in number and size due to the growing human population.
“The destruction of marine life in Bulolo and Watut River system now means more pressure is being exerted on the fish population in the lakes by the people, and so we need to restock fish in those lakes,” Tukwund said.
He said the common fish in the lakes now were the gift, or mozambique tilapia, which was very small in size.
He said super tilapia was the breed which would be ideal at this time.
Tukwund called on MMJV, MFMA or NARI to start restocking the lakes and ponds with super tilapia fingerlings as fish population was declining.