Drug arrests in Tonga ramp up through beginning of 2019
Quoting Radio New Zealand – 12 June 2019
“There was an increase in the rate of arrests for drug possession and distribution over the first four months of the year in Tonga.
“Local police said there were 84 arrests between January and April this year.
“This was out of a total of 180 between April 2018 and April 2019.
“Mele Manu Bloomfield, from the Taimi 'o Tonga newspaper says that they have been covering between two and three drug arrests a week, not including cases already before the court.
“Deputy Police Commissioner Pelenatita Vaisuai said the Police Special Branch will continue its mission to stop the flow of drugs into Tonga and assistance from the community will go a long way to bringing to justice those engaged in "this damaging criminal activity".
Copyright @ 2019, Radio New Zealand.
Vanuatu companies want labour schemes restricted to unemployed
Quoting Radio New Zealand – 12 June 2019
“A parliamentary committee says companies in Vanuatu are wary about training their staff because they fear they might later resign to participate in labour mobility programmes in Australia and New Zealand.
“Currently over 7,000 ni-Vanuatu are involved in New Zealand's Recognised Seasonal Employment or the Seasonal Workers Program in Australia.
“The Economic Policy committee in Vanuatu's parliament, which enquires into matters around the regulation of economic activities and commerce, has revealed that some companies are facing challenges because of the schemes.
“MP Francois Chani said the programmes are good for Vanuatu because of the remittances they bring in but authorities must make sure they serve their purpose in providing jobs for the unemployed.
“Mr Chani said a lot of people with jobs have been re-signing to participate in the programme.
“He said the government must negotiate with its partners to make sure the only people who could participate in the programme are those without jobs over the past four to five years.
“The committee also said the high cost of living was causing a lot of people to leave their jobs to work overseas.”
Copyright @ 2019, Radio New Zealand.
12 June 2019
Invasive species being carried on ships have the potential to cause great harm to the environment.
A regional workshop in Suva this week heard evidence from the chief executive of the Maritime Safety Authority, Philip Hill, that pests including the African tulip tree, the green iguana and others were being transported in the ballast water of vessels from overseas.
He explained to his audience, "For example, if they fill [ballast water] from a foreign country, they are supposed to go through the ballast water management whereby they pump out that water and then fill in water that is within our territories."
Ballast water is pumped into ships to ensure safe operating conditions are maintained during a journey.
"However, it can pose a serious threat to a country's marine ecosystem and economy due to the vast range of marine species carried in the ships' ballast water.
"These include bacteria, microbes, small invertebrates, eggs, cysts and larvae of various species," he said.
"The transferred species may survive to establish a reproductive population in the host environment, becoming invasive, out-competing native species and multiplying into pest proportions," he said.
Mr Hill said ballast water management and anti-fouling systems aim to prevent invasive species carried by ships from entering Fiji's waters.
According to the authority, a recent invasive species found in Fiji had been identified as the red swamp crayfish or vormers.
Mr Hill said research revealed it originated from the Netherlands and that the pests had drilled themselves into the wooden hull of boats.
"If they survive the voyages, they become pests in any environment."
Mr Hill said invasive species could attack the indigenous species which is why the ballast water management is important.
He said the government would be looking at working with the University of the South Pacific to study the invasive species present that are entering the country.
In 2016, Biosecurity Fiji officials found 28 adult giant African snails and about 500 snail eggs on a ship in the capital Suva.
The ship had arrived from the Solomons and was in transit to Kiribati.
Source Radio New Zealand.
The Solomon Islands is fortunate to be free of many pests and diseases found in other countries nearby and worldwide, but it does have the terrible problem of the rhinoceros beetle that is continuing to threaten palm trees and the livelihoods of many Solomon Islanders.
Pacific Beat carried a report quite recently which said (Quote)
“Solomon Islanders are facing a bleak future as the coconut rhinoceros beetle marches across its fertile plains, killing their "tree of life" by the millions.
“But these Pacific islanders do not rely on the ubiquitous fruit just for nutrition — the coconuts supply the palms' valuable cash crops of oil and copra, while the tree is also used for building and making essential household goods.
“The coconut rhinoceros beetle has already browned-off the verdant landscape around the capital, Honiara.
“Over the past three years, it has ferociously attacked the massive plantations of Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil Limited (GPPOL), east of the city. Its general manager Craig Gibsone fears for the future.”
How did the damaging pest get to the Solomon Islands? I guess the real answer is still unclear but initial evidence has suggested the rhinoceros beetle could have come from Vietnam, the Philippines or Indonesia.
The evidence presented at the Suva workshop did, however, cause me to wonder about the way invasive species harmful to the environment and the ecology are penetrating borders.
The Biosecurity Solomon Islands (BSI) is a Department of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and works to ensure the safe import and export of plants and animals to protect the people, agriculture, the economy and environment, but clearly the rhinoceros beetle somehow slipped through the pest surveillance measures the BSI adopts.
Some 60 years ago the coconut industry in Fiji, Tonga and Samoa was nearly wiped out by the rhinoceros beetle until a virus was introduced as a biological control measure and the infestation put to a stop, but by then nearly half of the coconut plantations in each of the three countries had been destroyed.
It is said a silver bullet virus is needed in the Solomon Islands to eradicate the pest but the virus that worked previously will not work at home because the rhinoceros beetle is believed to have developed a resistance to the virus.
It is understood efforts are ongoing to find the right parasite, predator, or suppressing organism that might be introduced to reduce the rhinoceros beetle population while efforts continue to clear breeding sites.
Govt plans to upgrade facilities at Munda airport
Quoting the Solomon Star newspaper – 12 June 2019
“The Government has recognised the importance of upgrading facilities at the Munda international airport to cater for the influx of visitors’ arrival.
“This was highlighted in the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) 100-day policy document which was launched on Friday 31st May.
“Under this policy Government through the Ministry will work closely with Solomon Airlines within the 100 days to progress the essential improvements that are needed at the Munda international airport to ensure continued tourism interest.
“Under the time-frame there's a need to secure a definite plan, financing and time-line to construct a new international terminal at Munda international airport, commence discussions on support infrastructure to sustain the tourism interest including stepping up of appropriate hotel accommodation and tourism activities.
“The document stated plans to commence discussions with the United Church headquarters on the urgent relocation of the Helena Goldie Hospital to a new site in Munda.”
Copyright @ 2019, Solomon Star News.
Samoans could soon be building electric motorcycle
It was reported by Radio New Zealand today that an Australian firm is looking at setting up an electric motorcycle manufacturing factory in Samoa.
Quoting from the news bulletin it said:
Peeq Samoa recently set up the country's first call centre utilising the country's Tui Samoa submarine cable, and it is keen to set up a manufacturing unit too.
The company's executive trustee, Graham Liao, told the Samoa Observer the company was currently in negotiations with government to set up the factory.
He said the company was looking to open the manufacturing plant at the building that once housed Samoa's biggest private employer, Yazaki Samoa.
He said with their company based in Brisbane, the five hour flight time was favourable along with the Samoan people's grasp of the English language.
Mr Liao said the design of the electric motorbike is almost complete and with final approval they are most likely to start manufacturing by September of this year.
He said they have a long term plan to relocate the company headquarters to Samoa.
"Samoa is like a micro-Singapore waiting to happen, and I really believe that," he said.
Copyright © 2019, Radio New Zealand