By Bethanie Harriman – EM TV, Lae
The fisheries industry in Lae and Madang will be the biggest in the South Pacific.
The prospect of Lae’s seven tuna processing plants and Madang’s Pacific Marine Industrial Zone is already fuelling much of the infrastructure developments underway in the two provinces.
Fisheries Minister Mao Zemming says the growth rate for the fisheries industry is at 3.5 per cent annually.
However, while that growth rate is good for business, Lae locals have raised questions about participation.
Often local fisherman and landowners become marginalised during major developments, and are affected by severe environmental impacts. Madang’s PMIZ has been widely discussed in recent years.
Infrastructure however continues to be built around the tuna prospects.
A highway is being built from Mul-Baiyer in the Western Highlands to link Madang to the Highlands, while Lae’s tidal basin and four-lane highway are being constructed.
For Morobe, the tuna industry has the support from the Tutumang parliament and the bureaucracy.
“We have five tuna factories already on the ground,” says Morobe Governor, Kelly Naru.
As it stands, Morobe has an advantage: the government has allocated around 32 million kina for the initial stages that include a new wharf.
“There will be fish factories and also can-making, so we will be a one-shop,” says Provincial Fisheries Manager, Weti Zozangao.
Tradtional landowners of Lae City, the Ahi, have also registered land that can be used by investors and vital infrastructure is being improved.