FFA distances itself from MFMR’S blue boat controversy

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BY BARNABAS MANEBONA

THE forum fisheries agency (FFA) has clarified that it had requested to use only one of the three Vietnamese blue fishing boats – NOT all three.

This puts in question why the other two were not destroyed by Iona Firi as agreed with the Ministry of fisheries (MFMR).

A source within the ministry tells Island Sun that the contractor was not given instructions to hold up the demolition of the other two boats – thus the question of ‘why the delay?’

Meanwhile, FFA has clarified its position to distance itself from ongoing controversy revolving round the Vietnamese blue boats, which were supposed to have been destroyed four weeks ago.

Wez Norris, FFA’s Deputy Director General, tells Island Sun that the Court had accepted FFA’s request, ordering one boat be put aside for research – however, this plan did not proceed due to lack of funds.

“The court decision directed that one boat be set aside to participate in this trial and the MFMR has been very helpful in making sure this happened.

“It is our job to monitor tuna vessels for the Pacific countries and we wanted to undertake a trial to see if we can also use technology to help in finding blue boats.

“Unfortunately when we started planning the trial, we discovered that it would cost far more than the budget that we had available.”

Public are questioning MFMR why the destruction of the other two boats had not proceeded as ordered by the court.

The Ministry of Fisheries (MFMR) had struck a deal with contractor, Iona Firi, to have the three boats disposed of within four weeks – a deal which cost $400,000 for taxpayers and government.

Interestingly, that four-week timeframe lapsed four weeks ago with the blue boats still lurking around Honiara and Tulagi – many miles away from the proposed demolition site in Langalanga, Malaita province.

This has sparked much public concern that this deal was another fishy scheme by the fish ministry to dupe taxpayers of $400,000.

Making matters worse, MFMR has decided to keep silent to questions posed by media to clarify the blue boat fiasco.

In social media, public are suspicious of this fruitless deal between MFMR and Iona Firi, and are calling for clarification from the ministry.

“In other words, the ministry is breaching court order by prolonging the boats’ destruction. And the ministry’s silence raises suspicions even more,” one Facebook commentator chirps.

Island Sun is still after response from the ministry regarding this issue.

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