By Mike Puia
DIRECTOR and Acting Secretary of the Ontong Javanese Association (OJA), Dr Reginald Aipia, has urged responsible authorities to investigate and clean-up the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR).
Mr Aipia said this is necessary because the Ministry is being corrupted by few senior officials within- with the help of some individuals outside.
Aipia, from Ontong Java atolls, made this call in light of a high court declaration that ruled against Chinese bech-de-mer buyers and exporters who buy and exported illegally-harvested beches-de-mer harvested in their atolls.
He said it was interesting how the Ministry’s senior officials and their Member of Parliament directly involved in effort to return the illegally harvested beches-de-mer to the Chinese buyers and exporters.
These Chinese beche-de-mer buyers and exporters have already done some export.
Aipia said information have surfaced that the Ministry deliberately stopped him from farming bech-de-mer while allowing illegal harvesting to continue.
The medical doctor was given approval to do a trial beche-de-mer farming. He was arrested and accused of harvesting the marine resource when a ban is in place.
Aipia turned and filed a case against a group that was harvesting the resource when the ban is still effective. Not long the ban was lifted for a period of one month.
He claimed the Ministry’s officials and their MP are ones behind the harvest and export of illegally harvested beche-de-mer.
Aipia said the high court declaration against the export done by Chinese buyers and exporters means that Ministry’s officials and their MP are equally guilty of breaching the fisheries laws and so should be charged.
“Had no one persuaded a legal case against these people, issues relating to the illegal harvesting and exporting of beche-de-mer will just disappear into thin air and these illegal-harvesting people will go free which is unfair,” Aipia said.
He said their atolls have the highest products for top beche-de-mer species but on papers they were recorded as low grade species.
Aipia said the State lost millions in revenue because few officials within the Ministry, with the help of their MP, attempted to hide things.
Senior officials within the Ministry this paper contacted have yet to respond to issues put before them.