Thursday, 12 April 2012 9:41 AM

Ongtong Java People Demand Temporary Lifting of Ban

The people of Ontong Java, Malaita Outer Islands, have handed a set of demands to the government on the bechedemer issue.

"The Prime Minister must instruct the Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources to issue fisheries permit to those that have stockpiles of bechedemer on Ontong Java based on humanitarian grounds," the statement to the Prime Minister reads.

"Such a temporary measure is only meant to ensure that we have income for our survival."

The petition makes specific mention of similar actions by government in the past. They say such requests are not new as it has been done and approved in the past.

Opposition Leader Derek Sikua has urged the Government to seriously consider the petition from the people of Ontong Java.

"The petition is just a frustration at the long delay by the Government in resolving the bechedemer issue, which has affected them in a big way," said Dr Sikua.

Dr Sikua says the people of Ontong Java depend entirely on bechedemer to earn money for their daily survival due to the destruction of their gardens of swamp taro and other crops by sea-level rise.

The Opposition Leader says the petition is important for the survival of the Ontong Java people.

"Precedence has been set in 2010 by Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo in his capacity as the then Supervising Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources in allowing Zhang Tong Zhi to export 150 tonnes of beche-de-mer during the ban," said Dr Sikua.