Senior police officer named in under-ground beche-de-mer network, threatens Dr Aipia
A senior police officer is among a network of people working hard to ensure he is arrested for farming beche-de-mer or sea cucumber breeding on Ontong Java, Malaita Outer Islands (MOI), says Dr Reginald Aipia.
“And I’m ready to testify in court with eye-witnesses to prove this,” he told Island Sun.
Dr Aipia of the Ontong Java Development Authority claimed the senior police officer (named) had got in touch with a local leader to tell him (Dr Aipia) not to engage in illegal harvesting of beche-de-mer
“Which my boys were not engaged in as we were only concentrating on trying to breed and farm it so it could be sustainable in the long-run,
“I was not engaged in harvesting of beche-de-mer as I had warned my boys not to do that until it was declared open on 1st September 2017.”
Dr Aipia claimed this senior police officer and some prominent people of Ontong Java along with their cohorts were in fact trying to conceal a racket of illegal harvesting.
“This particular senior police officer and his cohorts are trying to protect a move by Ontong Java House of Chiefs who borrowed $40,000 from Chinese buyers in Honiara last year to illegally harvest sea cucumber.
“700 bags of flour and 700 packets of sugar were also given by the Chinese buyers on the condition that Ontong Javans dive and prepare the sea cucumber for them before the Ministry of Fisheries announce the date of the harvest period.
“They even know beforehand that the harvest period would open in September 2017 and already stock up sea cucumber ready to give to the Chinese buyers by August this year,” he added.
The Ontong Java Sea Farming pilot project which Dr Aipia is spearheading with the help of marine biologist Erik Hagberg was not a new initiative.
Hagberg has done several sea cucumber farming in the Northern Pacific and wish to emulate the same success story in Ontong Java.
He is even surprised that the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources is declaring the harvest of the sea cucumber at a period when spawning or producing of eggs is happening.
Both refuted claims by Director Fisheries Mr Edward Honiwala that they knew nothing about sea cucumber farming; and saw the Japanese Overseas Cooperation Foundation sea cucumber project as very expensive and unproductive.