Gov’t clarifies decision to ban foreign naval vessels.

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Cabinet wants naval ships belonging to bilateral countries to provide details to the government for approval before they can be allowed to port in the country.

Special Secretary to Prime Minister, Albert Kabui explained this to the media yesterday after the government could not grant approval to the US Coast Guard Cutter (USGC) Oliver Henry and the HMS Spey on time.

As a result, US Coast Guard Cutter (USGC) Oliver Henry, which was making a routine trip stop to Honiara on 23 August had to divert to Papua New Guinea for stopover.

This happened after Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare gave the approval for Oliver Henry to enter the country.

Kabui said they will review the process before informing the bilateral countries to apply.

He said this is to avoid naval ships entering the country before applying for approval to the government as was the practice in the past.

“You need to tell how many people are on board prior to entering Solomons waters.

“We are a sovereign country, we have our laws and other countries must respect our laws,” he said.

As such, Kabui said everything is on halt to review the process to make it efficient and get relevant information on time and give approval on time.

However, he said this does not affect the multilateral countries, mainly Forum Fisheries Agency, that are doing surveillance in our waters.

FFA has conducted Operation Island Chief on the waters of 11 participating FFA member nations – Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and the high sea.

This was to look out for ships involved in illegal fishing in the Pacific waters.