Palau government to subsidize electricity
The Palau government will reportedly provide subsidy to the Palau Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC) to lift the power hike burden from the public. President Johnson Toribiong announced the news this week saying that he will be including the proposal in the 2013 Fiscal Year budget reportedly in the amount of $2.5 million. Toribiong reportedly met with PPUC’s board of directors regarding the tariff increase that is set to come into effect in October of this year. During the meeting, the board reportedly emphasized PPUC’s need to increase the power rates from what it currently makes. PPUC reportedly spends $2 million a month on fuel alone, so the increase of tariff is necessary to continue operations. Previous reports shows that five Senators known as the minority group sent letters to the President urging him to provide at least $2.4 million subsidy to PPUC to prevent the implementation of the power rate increase. The Senators noted that the action is urgently needed to relieve the public from suffering. The same Senators also sent a letter to the PPUC board urging them to work with government in settling outstanding debt.
Unlicensed Filipino fishermen caught in Palau waters
With assistance from the U.S Coast Guard Palau has been able to apprehend unlicensed foreign fishermen within the country’s zone. According to Marine Law Officers, rat and cockroach infestation was found within the vessel. The crew was ordered to dock a few feet from land until their vessel is inspected. Both Filipino vessels are under Palau’s custody and still under investigation. Here’s Rolynda with more
Pacific nations vulnerable to human trafficking
The Pacific region has been labeled vulnerable to Trafficking In Persons commonly known as human trafficking according to a recent analysis. Women from the Federated States of Micronesia are reportedly recruited to the US with promise of well-paid jobs, but are instead forced into prostitution. Pohnpei State Police reportedly received information regarding FSM women and children being prostituted to the crew on Asian fishing vessels. According to the US State Department report, little data on the scope of human trafficking in FSM is available, as the government has not conducted inquiries, investigations or surveys into human trafficking. Acknowledging the vulnerability of human trafficking in the Pacific, FSM passed new laws targeting human trafficking in March of this year, enabling them to prosecute both international and domestic cases. According to the analysis, ten Pacific Island nations including Guam, Palau, and RMI reported that they have reasons to believe people were trafficked into their country. Palau and Fiji like FSM has also enacted laws to address human trafficking.
Nurse demands resolved?
On Friday May 11, Palau’s hospital nurses marched out of the national hospital where they petitioned Minister of Health to address several issues that has remained over the years. The nurses met with President Toribiong and several members of the OEK the next day in efforts to address these issues. Here’s Rolynda with more.
Former Chuuk Tuna industry building caught on fire
Former Chuuk Tuna Industry building, which is now occupied by the Chuuk Department of Transportation, was caught on fire on Wednesday May 9th. According to reports, most people initially thought the FSM Petroleum Corporation fuel tank farm was on fire, as no one knew for certain what was burning. Although Chuuk does not have its own fire truck, ARFF firefighters, the Department of Public Safety and other volunteers were able to contain the fire from spreading to nearby buildings. No one was reportedly injured from the incident, however the cause of the fire has not yet been determined. Some people hear loud explosions, but did not where it originated. Public Safety is now investigation the matter.
PPUC GM Vacant, Uyehara completes contract
After six-months working as Palau Public Utilities Corporation’s Interim General Manager Ken Uyehara’s contract is officially complete and the position is now vacant. According to reports, three hopefuls have turned in their application for the vacant position including former GM Rukebai Inabo, who resigned from her position last year following the catastrophic fire at Aimeliik Power Plant. Other applicants include Kione Isechal, who has experience as a member and chairperson of PPUC’s board of directors and an American applicant by the name of Mathew Muller. After reviewing each applicant, the Board will then select PPUC’s new general manager. At the meantime, Uyehara has been reportedly appointed by the President as a member of PPUC’s board of directors. He will need to be approved by the Senate before joining the other members.
Japan pledge $4.6M for Pacific disaster insurance
The government of Japan has pledged over $4 million for an insurance program set up with the World Bank to help Pacific Island countries deal with risk of natural disasters. The new program will reportedly mirror World Bank’s Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance, which stands ready to provide short-term financial assistance to governments in the event of a powerful earthquake or hurricanes. According to Japanese officials, the program is expected to come into effect by November of this year. Countries such as Solomon Islands and Tonga have already expressed their intention to be part of it. Japan’s Prime Minister will officially announce the new insurance scheme during the upcoming Pacific Island Summit in Japan later this month.
RMI approves first Trade Policy Framework
The Republic of the Marshall Islands has approved its first trade policy framework. Announcing the news at the opening of the 2012 Forum Trade Ministers meeting in Majuro, President Loeak explained that the policy will mainstream trade in the country’s national development plan. Through the policy, RMI will also undertake necessary reforms in trade and investment laws including liberalization of a number of sectors and improving basic infrastructure services such as transportation. Accordingly, the reforms will assist the RMI government in enhancing its private sector development and stimulate growth in preparation for the expiry of funds under the Compact with the US in year 2023.
Sea Shepherd Founder arrested
Founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Captain Paul Watson was arrested in Germany this week through a warrant issued by the government of Costa Rica. Reports indicate that Watson’s arrest resulted from an alleged violation of ships traffic back in 2002. According to Sea Shepherd officials, the alleged violation occurred during the filming of Sharkwater when Sea Shepherd encountered an illegal shark finning operation run by a Costa Rican ship, the Varadero. During the confrontation, the Varadero crew accused Sea Shepherd officials of trying to kill them. However, video evidence reportedly proved the accusation to be false. Sea Shepherd officials noted that although Watson is still in custody, there is a chance that the charges have been dropped and that he will be released soon. Despite Watson’s arrest, Sea Shepherd has begun outlining a new shark campaign for 2012, where they will offer its assistance to countries around the world beginning in South Pacific. The global campaign is anticipated to start next month. Last year, Sea Shepherd offered its assistance to Palau in protecting its shark species, but the agreement was later terminated.
Japan donates generators to Palau
The Palau Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC) will now be able to continue provide sufficient electricity services to communities in Palau with four additional generators provided by the government of Japan. On May 16th, Japan Ambassador Yoshiyuki Sadaoka handed over the keys to the four generators valued at about $4 million provided through the government’s emergency grant aid. The grant aid funded installation of the four 500 kilowatt generators including transportation and operational training costs. All four generators are housed in Malakal Power Plant.
PCS Environmental Update
And now let’s go to Yalap of PCS for this week’s environmental update.
Pacific countries to benefit from biodiversity project
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) has launched a $1.7 million project to conserve land biodiversity in the Pacific. Under this three-year initiative, Pacific nations such as Tonga, Tuvalu, Nauru and Cook Islands will conduct a range of activities within their local communities to produce and strengthen management to save threatened species and ecosystems as well ensure sustainable use of natural resources. During an inception workshop in Samoa this week, representatives from each of the Pacific Island countries were able to develop results based plans to strengthen the implementation of their national biodiversity project.
FSM to utilize solar power
The Federated States of Micronesia will be accessing its $4 million allocation through the Pacific Environment Community Fund in efforts to reduce its annual carbon emissions as well as annual costs of diesel fuel. Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae State will each benefit from the project with the installation of grid-connected solar photovoltaic systems. The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, who administers the Fund, said that the project will provide significant benefits to the States and congratulates FSM for developing its proposal. According to reports, the project is anticipated to contribute 1.7 percent electricity generation to the national renewable energy target of 30 percent energy from renewable energy sources by year 2020. The PEC Fund is a $66 million commitment by the government of Japan to support Forum island country projects with a focus on the provision of solar power generation systems and seawater desalination plants. Island countries that have accessed the Fund to date include Fiji, Cook Islands, Nauru, Samoa and Solomon Islands.
Fijian Beauty Queen loses Crown
A 16-year-old Fijian beauty queen has lost her crown after questions arose over whether she was “Fijian enough”. Torika Watters, a kailoma or person of mixed European/Fijian heritage, was selected by the Miss World franchise last month, with a judging panel that included New Zealand model Rachel Hunter. Watters said the pageant director told her she had actually lost the title because the British-based Miss World organisation said 16-year-olds could not enter. However, this had not been the case when she was asked to enter, and she was now pulling out. But one of the judges, said the result may have been pre-determined before the show. In a statement, Watters said she had no involvement in any of the underhand process and that she was blind to the entire drama going on behind the scenes. She further stated that she had no knowledge of any pre-selection or pre-judging. According to reports after Watters was named the Miss Fiji Facebook site had to delete hundreds of comments saying violent or racist comments.
A tribute to Layleen Oliver
It was with great sadness that the Australian Embassy learned of the sudden passing of Layleen Oliver, in Pohnpei on Friday May 11. All of the Embassy’s current and former staff is very saddened at Layleen’s untimely loss. She made many friendships during her 12 years of service with the Australian Embassy in Pohnpei and her work touched lives all across the Pacific. Although she left her work at the Embassy for a higher appointment at the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission just a few short months ago, she remained a close part of the Australian Embassy family. Oliver also worked very closely with Palau’s Ministry of State. We at OTV send our deepest condolences to Oliver’s friends, family and colleagues.
Marshalls appeal FFA short listing for director job
Marshall Islands officials are appealing a recruitment process for the head of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency that eliminated Marshall Islands candidate Gerald Zackios from consideration. The short-listing of five of 10 candidates for the top FFA job has “raised concerns” and prompted the Marshall Islands to lodge a formal complaint to Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) officials questioning the process and requesting that all 10 candidates be interviewed. The FFA changed its hiring process to engage a Papua New Guinea-based firm to handle the short- listing of the 10 candidates. The company, Vanguard International, selected five candidates to be interviewed for the job: two from Australia, one from Vanuatu, one from Papua New Guinea, and current Deputy Director James Movick, who is from the Federated States of Micronesia. Director of RMI’s Marine Resources Authority stated that the country is unhappy with the elimination of its candidate in light of Zackios’ strong credentials.
RMI youth take part in global Climate Awareness Campaign
Youth from the Marshall Islands took part in “Connect the Dots” for Climate Impacts day, a global climate awareness campaign by sending messages about carbon emissions and rising sea levels. Upon completing a two-day Youth Climate Leadership Workshop conducted by 350, a global group that focuses on climate change awareness, the group then posed for the camera with various messages such as “Connect the Dots – Your carbon emissions kills our corals”. Similar workshops also took place in Palau and Pohnpei this month by 350 to further climate change awareness in the Pacific. Hundreds of events were held around the world for Climate Impacts Day. According to 350.org thousands of photos and videos with various messages including those taken in Marshall Islands are now streaming in more than 100 countries where people are connecting the dots between climate change and extreme weather.
First Marshallese deaf student graduates with 4-year degree
Marshall Islander Mela Langinbelang has done something no one else from the RMI has done: she has graduated from Gallaudet University in Washington, DC with a bachelor’s degree in deaf studies. Mela, who was born and raised on Ebeye Island, is deaf. The key to her success, she said, is having “parents who believed in me and my deaf sister and didn’t give us the chance to pity ourselves. The importance of education was always emphasized.” She lived on Ebeye until she was 11, then attended schools in Hawaii before transferring to Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, the only university in which all programs and services are specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students. Before returning to the Marshall Islands, Mela said she wants to earn a master’s degree to be “more confident that I will be able to do what I believe God sent me to the United States to do. It is my objective to become a catalyst for change and progress for deaf and hard of hearing citizens of the RMI.”
Roanoke College students conducts research
A group of 15 students from Roanoke College in Virginia, led by anthropologists Dr. Chad Morris and Kelly Duke, arrived in Palau this week to study globalization and health. With gracious assistance from the Ministry of Health, Ulkerreuil A Klengar, Palau Community Action Agency, Palau Community College Office of Cooperative Extension, and the Bureau of Arts and Culture, the group is conducting research in Ngerbeched and Ngarchelong about beliefs and ideas associated with nutrition and access to food. The College will be working long-term in Palau to help create and support community-driven programs leading to lower non-communicable disease rates and increased food security.
PCC Students organize International Youth Festival on campus
As part of their exam Palau Community College students studying office administration organized an event filled with presentations and entertainment at the school’s campus. OTV crew joined the students with more details.
PALAU SPORTS FISHING TOURNAMENT RESULTS
We have the official results and photos of the top finishers in last weeks 22nd annual Palau Sports Fishing Tournament. Unfortunately, no one was able to bring in the $30,000 for a Billfish 501 lbs. and over or the $15,000.
But a Grand Prize of $10,000 and the perpetual trophy for Billfish 301 to 400 lbs.
was awarded to George Rechucher, Rihart Rechirei & team with their 319 lbs. marlin. That’s a lot of Sashimi!
This years Baby Grand Prize if you can call a 264 lb Marlin a baby, went to Ashley Omelau and Team earning them $5000 bucks!
Rounding out the results for the tournament by category.
The BILLFISH 1st Place winner was Team Ms. Rur, Sam Masang and team, pulling in $2,000 cash for their 219 lb marlin.
In the TUNA category which includes Yellowfin, Dogtooth, and Bluefin, the first place winner and $1000 goes to Team Tim’s Brothers with Salui Inacio and his brothers with a 21.9 lbs. yellowfin tuna.
In WAHOO Team Ngirakesau, a father and son combo of Edwin and Sochai respectively, coming in with a 26 lbs. wahoo and $1000.
BARRACUDA/SPANISH MACKEREL $1,000 cash goes to Team Katalia with Team Capt. Edward Tadao and team members for 35.5 spanish mackerel.
Congratulation to all participants and winners!
You can already set your dates for next year’s 23rd Palau Sports Fishing Tournament featuring the Etpison Cup on May 18 – 19, 2013! So between now and May next year, the PFA encourages you to “keep your lines tight”.
EARTHRACE 5 YEAR FLASHBACK
On this weeks Earthrace 5 year Flashback we pick up where we left off in Kota Kinabalu where Earthrace diverted their entire race course to accommodate fuel sponsor Jennifer Koskelin Gibbon’s wedding plans. As you can see it was quite the hulabaloo.
After we left KK, we had some of the most beautiful waters including this spectacular sunset. I even got to drive the boat which i didn’t have any idea on how to control but I did know we had a loooong way to go.
The downtime gave me a chance to have an exclusive chat with Earthrace Captain Pete Bethune where I asked him among things about the whole experience.
True to form, the weather didn’t hold long. Hedley the Engineer was enjoying the weather where first mate Ryan couldn’t care less.
So stay tuned and find out what happens when we actually reach Singapore and the rollercoaster continues!
That’s it for this weekend news highlights, and have a safe weekend.