Member of Parliament for Torba Province Christophe Emelee says he supports the chiefs of the Torres Group 100% over their plans to seek legal remedy over the loss of their people’s coconut crabs
at Luganville, Santo, over a week ago.
“I support the chiefs 100 per cent,” he told Kizzy Kalsakau, host of 96 BuzzFM’s Nightly News program. “What happened was an abuse of power because the chiefs have a license. But today the director of fisheries has disputed the process of the license.
“The community owns the resource and now they have to pay a license to make a living out of the resource.
“The license costs Vt140,000 plus Vt20,000 for the Province, both were approved by the director of fisheries,” he bemoaned the situation.
“When the consignment of 200 coconut crabs arrived on Santo, the destination was Port Vila. So, no one has broken the law because the community owns the crabs.
“And the license had been valid for a couple of days. So, where is it that the community had broken the law?” the MP, who hails from Torres, questioned.
“For me, the only thing to do is to take the matter to court because it is the only thing working in Vanuatu, everything else is so corrupt and we blame it on the government.”
MP Emelee explained that at Tegua Island, there is a quota system in place for harvesting of crabs allowing for different numbers of coconut crabs to be harvested for different occasions such as wedding ceremonies, students, and many more.
“Now that the coconut crabs have been lost, school children concerned have lost their school fees and they will be evicted from the schools.
“I cannot sponsor everyone.”
Sadly, it’s not just school fees that have been lost as a result of the crabs having been confiscated at Santo by people the chiefs believe to be Fisheries Department officers, medical treatment is also affected.
MP Emelee said that some of the crabs that came from the Torres were to be sold to raise money to send one of their chiefs to Noumea for medical treatment for prostate cancer.
Now, the man is said to be still in Port Vila, after his air ticket was sponsored by the MP for him to come to Vila from Torres.
All the documents from his doctor requiring him for treatment are all ready, and the community sent some coconut crabs to sell in Vila so he can have some money to go to Noumea to get his treatment.
But now that avenue has been lost.