Tubi thief fined

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    Asian logger breaks environment and foreign investment laws, faces permit cancellation

    BY PRIESTLEY HABRU

    AN Asian logger is facing a fine of up to $100,000 over its illegal harvesting of “Tubi” trees in Isabel Province.

    The Foreign Investment Board (FIB) communicated the fine to Sunrise Investment Limited in a letter it issued to the logging firm early last month.

    FIB said this is for violation of approved condition relating to harvesting of Tubi or Xanthostemon melanoxylon (Myrtaceae), which is endemic to Solomon Islands and only found on the eastern tips of Isabel and Choiseul islands.

    Tubi is a protected tree species under the Solomon Islands Environmental and Wildlife Protection Management Act.

    “That Sunrise Investment Limited violates the Isabel Resource Management and Environmental Protection Ordinance 2005, section 5 (4) by taking a prohibited species of wildlife or forest resources which is prohibited under the wildlife and protection management act,” Registrar of FIB Lynette daWheya stated in a letter to the company dated September 7, 2020.

    Mrs daWheya said Sunrise’s continual harvesting of Tubi trees on Isabel was also without the written consent and approval of the Executive of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Business Licence for Wildlife trader.

    “The offence for violating the ordinance or any of the provision by anybody is liable on conviction to; a fine not exceeding $100,000 and a penalty not exceeding $50,000,” the FIB Registrar said to Sunrise.

    The $50,000 is to be paid to the Provincial Resource Management Fund in accordance with section 43 of the Isabel Resource Management and Environmental Protection Ordinance 2005.

    It was revealed Sunrise Investment Limited Certificate Number 1925 has failed to comply with its Foreign Investment approval conditions.

    As such by virtue of section 23 of the Foreign Investment Act 2005 (amended 2009), the letter by the Registrar of FIB was to show cause notice and Sunrise Investment Limited was charged with several violations.

    Apart from violating the Isabel Resource Management and Environmental Protection Ordinance 2005, Sunrise was also charged with violations of Foreign Investment reserved business activities.

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    daWheya said Sunrise Investment Limited on or about mid 2019 at Korona Customary land on San Jorge island, Isabel Province committed a violation contrary to section 23 (1) of the Foreign Investment Act by conducting a prohibited and investment reserved for locals pursuant to schedule 2 of the Foreign Investment Regulations 2006, as read with or along Wildlife Protection Act 1998 section 11.

    FIB said Sunrise Investment Limited have conducted a gathering of wild forests products, namely felling, extracting and exporting of Flora namely Xanthostemon known locally as Tubi.

    By violating the Foreign Investment Act and Solomon Islands Wildlife Protection and Management Act, Sunrise has committed an offence.

    “The punishment for violation of the law is fine and maximum penalty is imprisonment for 12 months or more,” FIB said.

    Furthermore, Sunrise failed to notify the Registrar of Foreign Investment of additional business activities conducted by the company.
    The company was given 10 days upon receipt of the letter dated September 7 to provide reasonable explanation to the Registrar of Foreign Investment Division with supporting documents as to why the company’s Foreign Investment Permit should not be cancelled.

    FIB said failure to comply with the notice, Sunrise certificate of registration will be cancelled with the Registrar of Companies, Commissioner of Labour and Immigration to be notified.

    The illegal felling of tubi trees on San Jorge island in Isabel Province has angered local landowning groups.

    A local landowner of Korona land on San Jorge Wilson Tohidi said recently that about 6,673 tubi logs have already been harvested, weighing up to 8065.927 cubic metres.

    The total cubic metres of tubi is increasing as felling continues.

    He said an estimated 1,500 cubic metres of tubi are also stockpiled at Lelegia on mainland Isabel, which belongs to the same landowning tribe.

    Sunrise has continued to extract tubi on San Jorge island despite not being granted a business licence by the Isabel Provincial Government.

    Comments are being sought from Sunrise Investment Limited.

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