Why fisheries reject Aipia’s project - Solomon Star News

Why fisheries reject Aipia’s project

21 September 2017
Dr Aipia with other locals on Ontong Java, beche-de-mer farm.

UNDER Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources Ferral Lasi on Wednesday explained the reason why they disallowed Dr Aipia’s beche-de-mer project, saying the species is regulated through a ban.

He said the letter of endorsement from the Minister back in 2014 to Dr Aipia and his business partner is not equivalent to a licence and that the ministry is the only licensing authority under the Fisheries Management Act 2015.

“It does not happen the way where you conduct trial of a particular project then later granted licence,” he explained.

“It was already established that the document he purported to have from the ministry is a support letter from one of our Fisheries Officers who signed on behalf of the director without the director’s consent,” he said.

“This will be dealt with in court,” he further added.

Mr Lasi said the reason for the recent trip to Ontong Java atoll was to confirm the presence of the farm.

Dr Aipia said he welcomed any court case against him and his business partner from the Pacific Aquaculture Cooperatives International Inc Erik Hagberg.

Mr Hagberg is a Marine Biologist from USA and is contracted by Dr Aipia’s company Ontong Java Development Company (OJDC) to provide technical support to the pilot project.

The duo started the pilot project to farm bechedemer four months ago at the remote atolls after their presentation to the cabinet which convinced the caucus to give them a green light.

They were transported over to Honiara last week by Maritime Police patrol boat under orders from the ministry for questioning.

Mr Hargberg has claimed the OJDC pilot project on sea cucumber has been an overwhelming success.

“We are pleased to report the material accomplishment of all the first stage milestones, and that the farming technologies and spawning methodologies employed all produced profound success,” OJDC said in a statement. 

“Spawning, reproduction, recovery of juveniles, and success of technology transfer to local farming teams exceeded all expectations and estimates detailed in the project documents and publications.

“The project used four separate methods of reproduction and farming that were employed successfully on six separate species.

“The project’s expectation is to continue rapidly expanding throughout the remainder of the year with a firm 10 year development plan,” the OJDC statement reads.

It added the project and its team, despite vicious slander, numerous false accusations and false witnesses, and even police harassment, took to the field with faith and determination in its goal to establish and demonstrate a revolutionary sea cucumber farming and ranching method.

The statement said up to $2.5 million has been spent so far by OJDC on the pilot project which covers all the ground work and establishment.