By TAUNA GEORGE
Samarai-Murua MP Gordon Wesley has condemned the ban on harvesting beche-de-mer.
Wesley called on the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) to lift the ban because he claimed it was not benefiting people but robbing them of their customary resources.
He made the comments after locals at Ware Island confiscated a foreign fishing boat over the weekend with a large load of beche-de-mer before handing it over to authorities.
The boat, with its crew on board, was towed to Alotau for further investigations.
The boat is under the custody of the Bwana Bwana LLG president Esko Wesley.
Wesley said locals had earlier sighted three boats in the area but two of them managed to evade authorities.
He is frustrated over constant reports of illegal poachers in their area.
“I am now calling on the NFA to lift the ban as soon as possible because it is not helping the locals but depriving them of their rights to their own resources,” Wesley claimed.
“There have been sightings of illegal poachers but every time locals report to authorities, they do nothing to monitor their movements or even to deter them from coming into our boundary.
“What is the purpose of the ban without any surveillance being done to monitor illegal poachers?
“I believe it would be better to lift the ban to allow the locals to fish so that they can monitor their waters against illegal poachers.”
Wesley sent a correspondence to the Fisheries Minister Mao Zeming yesterday informing him of the latest incident and urged him to ensure that the catch was given back to the locals.
NFA monitoring control and surveillance manager Gisa Komangina said 16 Vietnamese men were being questioned by Alotau police after they were suspected of fishing illegally in the area.
He said since the ban on harvesting bech-de-mer in 2009, there were encouraging results in the fishery stocks in maritime provinces.
“However, any chances of lifting the ban could be hampered by illegal poachers,” Komangina said.
By TAUNA GEORGE