The National, Thursday 23rd May 2013
By ELLEN TIAMU
VILLAGERS on Malai Island in Siassi, Morobe, want the owner of a tug boat which ran aground on a nearby reef to pay compensation for the damage to the coral habitat.
The tug is still stuck on the reef and attempts to salvage it have been unsuccessful so far.
Chairman of Siassi Fisheries Cooperative Gilingde Aitoba said in Lae yesterday the villagers were demanding K150,000 for damage to the marine environment.
The tug, believed to be owned by a company operating in Siassi, was towing a pontoon when it hit the reef.
Aitoba said the pontoon had to be detached to prevent further damage to the reef.
Aitoba, who is also chairman of Morobe Fisheries Cooperative Association said the villagers were concerned because the reef was part of their marine conservation area.
“More than 1300 people live on the island and because we have not much land left for gardens, we rely heavily on the sea and reef for daily sustenance,” he said.
He said villagers are careful not to harvest undersized fish and shellfish in the conservation area so as not to deplete marine life.