BY CHARLES KADAMANA
In Funafuti, Tuvalu
THE Australian government has announced SBD$11m for the Pacific Regional Environment programme to support regional efforts to respond to oil spill and marine pollution.
This was announced by Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison during the 50th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders retreat at Kainai II in Funafuti, Tuvalu on Thursday.
The funding will be made available through the Pacific Islands Marine Spill Contingency Plan (PACPLAN).
PACPLAN provides the framework for cooperative regional responses to major marine spill in the Pacific islands regions and set out how Pacific islands countries can request assistance from Australia, New Zealand, France or the United States.
Countries expected to benefit from the assistance include Tuvalu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Kiribati.
In Solomon Islands the funding will assist in response to the Hong Kong based vessel MV Solomon Trader grounding in Rennell islands on February 5 this year.
An estimated eight metric tonnes of heavy fuel was reported to have spread, posing threat to the natural world Heritage site in the Pacific, but the government maintains that full environment impact of the spill remains to be determined.
The oil spill remains a concern for possible impact on the World Heritage site and livelihoods of the local communities.
The plan provides a framework for cooperative regional response to major oil spills in the waters of 21 Pacific Islands countries and territories
The South Pacific Regional Environment is the leading regional organisation on addressing oil spills and other marine pollution events.