THE three Vietnamese Blue Boats will be destroyed as soon as possible.
Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resource under-secretary Ferral Lasi told the Solomon Star the recent delay to destroy the boats is based on an arrangement with Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).
He said under the arrangement, a research team contracted by an Australian university wants to do reconnaissance exercise with one of the blue boats.
“So based on their request, we reserve one of the blue boats for the research,” Mr Lasi said.
“But just this week, the research team informed FFA that they lacked the funding to conduct the research on the blue boats.
“So we call it off and now ensure that Iona Firi must continue with their destruction as per the MOU with Ministry of Fisheries,” Mr Lasi said.
He said according to the exercise, the research team will use one of the patrol boats and the blue boats and take them out to the open seas.
“Whilst in open seas, they will conduct a satellite reconnaissance to detect the blue boats.
“It’s a comparison of a metal and wooden boat to ascertain the differences when on satellite images and viewing.
“Mainly it is to solve the problem of detecting wooden boats and track its position when in foreign waters,” Mr Lasi said, adding that the success will help the government and FFA to locate reef robbers or pirates easily.
Mr Lasi said the research team does not have enough funding support from the University so they cancel the intended proposal.
He said two of the blue boats are currently anchored at a passage in Gela and will be taken toa ship yard at LangaLanga in Malaita province for destruction.
“Two of the blue boats are said to be at Boli passage of Gela awaiting the third one which is still anchored here at Port Douglas, Yacht Club.
“We will ensure that the boats are towed or transported to Langalanga as soon as possible,” he said.
When questioned why two of the Blue Boats are moored at Gela, which poses concern to the locals, Mr Lasi said Iona Firi Properties Limited would be in a better position to explain that.
“As understood, it costs a lot of money for the local company to take the boats across to Langalanga Lagoon.
“So maybe they are moored at Gela awaiting the availability of funding before they are taken across to Malaita for destruction,” he said.
The decision to destroy the blue boats followed a High Court order after the boats failed to pass their sea worthiness examination two months ago.
Earlier, Renbell Province Premier Collin Singamoana had been vocal on the government to consider donating them the blue boats to help his province boost fishery production and monitor the vast Indispensable Reef.
But he stopped pushing his call after the High Court made a ruling.
Comments are being sought from Iona Firi Properties Limited.
By TEDDY KAFO