Aipia questions why ban breakers are scot free


Dr Reginald Aipia

DR Reginald Aipia questions why the Ministry of Fisheries is not considering arresting people who had harvested Beche-de-mer when the ban was still in place.

Aipia, one of Solomon Islands’ renowned medical doctors, was brought in by police recently for questioning over his beche-de-mer farming project.

He is facing two counts; operation without licence and harvesting beche-de-mer while ban was active.

“I do not know why they have charged these on me but only the court will decide,” said Dr Aipia.

“I want this farming project to continue as I have already spent 2.5 Million on it.”

“Under the section the Ministry of Fisheries is pointing to for our arrest, it states that an approval can either be for a licence or an endorsement authorised from Fisheries in which I have that since 2014.

“The authorisation for the project to be carried out was given during June this year which is why I went on with this operation.

“If the Ministry of Fisheries had already known that such move is wrong then they should have stopped me in the first place so that I will not lose my money and be in this situation.”

Last week Friday, the Chairman and directors of Ontong Java Association (OJA) arrived in Honiara after travelling for 260km from Ontong Java purposely to support Dr Reginald Aipia with his case.

According to them, the communities in Ontong Java are anticipating Aipia gets approval from the government to continue with the farm project.

“Beche-de-mer farming is the future for our people, with this farming process is one way to help us through years of crying to the government for lifting the ban. It is better to farm and harvest rather than usually harvesting only,” said the members of OJA.

“If the government approves this, then it can take for more than ten years to do Beche-de-mer harvesting and exporting.”

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