While, the Papua New Guinea Government pushes for the PMIZ project to begin, the environmental issues remain a concern for locals.
Trade, Industry and Commerce Minister, Richard Maru, is putting pressure on integrated land owner groups to be established so that the project can begin. The rush has also caused confusion within the local community.
We benefit on the sea, our whole livelihood is based on the sea, our food and main source of income,” says Lucy Ber, a Sek member of Kananam.
The Sek clan that owns much of the land that the canneries will be built on, revealed that they’ve learnt tough lessons from the RD Tuna Canary that operates on the their land and pumps waste into the sea.
Recently, Lucy Ber and members of the Sek clan from Kananam staged a canoe protest trying to draw the government's attention to their plight.
Felix Arkfeld says the people will need alternative sources of income, when they can't fish in the sea to sell for an income. He says their children need to be given opportunities for spin off businesses and education.
The PMIZ issue began at the turn of the millennium when the idea was tabled by the Somare-led government.
The initial project was deemed infeasible, but China’s Exim Bank has helped with the funding needed to build 10 proposed canaries to make up the Marine Park, along the North Coast.
“Non of the industrial players want to get a picture of this, because they would have to pay for the environmental costs,” says Nancy Sullivan, an anthropologist that has been following the PMIZ saga for the last 10 years.
She explains the reality behind a project that will directly affect the livelihood of the people socially and economically living around the four villages.
“You take a huge chunk of the north coast and you basically kill rural coastal fishing, no matter what they say, a whole of Madang coastal fishing will go.” [EMTV]