Vanuatu daily news digest | 9 July 2014

Back-tracking for what you’ve missed in the Digest … and to today’s news …

The production of quality kava will be extremely important if the European market is completely open again according to the Chairman of the International Kava Executive Council, Eddie Wilson. Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu, he says, should set a regional standard under the codex alimentarius commission, Radio Vanuatu News reported this week. It should be noted that kava experts believe the plant originated in the area of Ambae, Maewo and Pentecost. Tongans used to paddle canoes to Erromango island in Vanuatu, several hundred years ago, before the arrival of the missionaries, in order to secure the best varieties. In 2012 the Food and Agriculture Organization required a more scientific study of the noble kavas under the code. The countries concerned must heed this, Wilson is urging.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) is holding its first regional aviation and tourism sectoral meeting at the MSG Secretariat next week, from 15 July. The aim is to set up a platform for all regional key stake-holders in aviation and tourism. CEOs of civil aviation authorities, ministries of tourism, and countries’ attorney general representatives will participate. Links between the essential aviation industry, and profitable tourism and hospitality sectors will be sought, VBTC News reported this morning. It is to be hoped they will also address the question of hopelessly delayed international airport safety repairs, such as are required at Bauerfield, and government failures to see these are carried out. They would also do well to consider Vanuatu’s Scamfield so-called development.

Daily Post Monday reported Vanuatu and Solomon Islands having the highest annual population growth rates in the world according to the UN Population Fund: 2.3% followed by Kiribati 2.1% The information was subsequently changed to mean the highest regional population growth. The UN Population Fund representative from the regional office in Fiji, Lorna Rolls, said Vanuatu also has the second highest "youth bulge" (15-24 years). Rolls praised Vanuatu for its National Population Policy but said it needed to be updated. She pointed out Vanuatu’s slow implementation of this policy and the need for a reproductive health policy.

Also on Monday Daily Post reported the Fishermen’s Association leader, Reme Kunuan, calling on members to remain quiet. July 28 is to be the day their ship finally berths, he said. He was meaning the day when their final settlement as decided is known.

Daily Post today has the Chinese fishing vessel bearing the Vanuatu flag and impounded by the French in New Caledonia for illegal fishing now being released. Damages may be expensive as the captain was held for some 7 months. The release comes about because of the UNCLOS Montego Bay treaty stipulating that where countries’ economic zones (EEZs) overlap equal rights to fishing, and presumably mining or any other economic pursuit, both countries are entitled to the resource unless a bi-lateral treaty exists between them. None exists between Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The New Caledonia Appeals Court over-ruled their court of first instance’s huge fine and imprisonment of the captain of the Vanuatu flagged vessel.The Chinese fishing vessel was able to fly the Vanuatu flag because it has registry with Vanuatu Maritime Services based in New York, the company presently chaired by Vanuatu Epi MP Robert Bohn.

The Public Service Commission has approved a new structure for the Ministry of Education. PM Natuman, as minister for the public service, says the new structure will cover the training sector. Positions involving tertiary education, TVET (even to provincial level) and the higher education commission are involved.

Penama government officials in top positions in the capital are being asked to attend a Penama provincial forum concerning their province’s administration. It will be held at Saratamata on 16 September. It will be a public forum and Council of Ministers approval is being sought by provincial leader Lonsdale Hinge to enable the officials to travel to the Ambae meeting.

Somebody called Mr Pratten, of whom we have never heard, has had his tax fraud conviction quashed in the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal Daily Post takes a quarter of a page to tell us today. We don’t learn who he is, but we do learn his case is unique in Australian legal history!