Kranget Islanders in Madang Province depend mostly on the sale of fish to put food on the table daily for their families. However, following a ban on the sale of fish in town market by the Madang Provincial Administration after the spillage at Ramu Nickle refinery, the sellers are now greatly affected.
The islanders told EMTV News that families are not able to buy food to sustain themselves as they are still not sure if it is safe to go out fishing as yet.
“Now with the mining incident that polluted the sea, it has affected most of our coastal communities, and because of that, our main source of income to take care of our families has come to a stop,” a local fish vendor, Jacintha Aikelave, commented.
Kranget fish market was an ideal spot for both tourists and locals to visit especially during lunch breaks. It used to be a very busy spot, vendors would arrive from the Kranget Island, a 10 minute boat ride from Madang town; they depend heavily on the sale of fish they catch from the sea to put food on the table.
A local woman whose daily life has been disrupted aired her concerns over the changes:
“Many of us on the island now face a huge problem with our daily living. So, the Provincial and National Government must assist us and our well-being on the island,” Jane Maron stated.
Three weeks ago, the Provincial Administration put a ban on the sale of fish in Madang town following the spillage at Ramu Nickle in August this year that had led to claims of fish dying due to the effects of contamination. The spill, which the responsible mining company claim, was a technical failure that lead to a slurry spill in the Basamuk area, turning the sea red.
Samples of food, plant, water and soil materials have been sent to Australia for testing now awaits results while an independent investigation into this case by Dr Alex Mojon, a Swiss expert in environmental remediation has stated a very high level of contamination, calling it “very shocking”.
The fish ban has affected the islanders directly who mostly depend on the sale of fish, and they are now forced to look at other alternatives to provide for their families, meanwhile, customers have stopped going to the market as a result of the ban.
Kranget islanders are now calling on the Government to find other means to support them while they wait for clearance from relevant authorities on the possible contamination and effects done to the marine life that sustain their livelihoods – and whether it is safe for them to start selling fish again.
“What will the government say to us? What will the government do for us? We are now in trouble.” Jane Maron raised her concerns.
“Will the Government send relief to sustain the people on the island during this time of ban? They must take note of our situation on the island,” a worried Jacintha Aikelave commented.
By Martha Louis – EMTV News, Madang