A row is raging after about 200 coconut crabs from the Torres Group were reportedly confiscated Saturday by officers of the Department of Fisheries in Luganville Santo from the Kiwi Trader
after the vessel arrived at Simonsene’s Wharf in the northern town.
Jean-Claude Emelee, whose father is Christophe Emelee, MP for the Torres Group, reported the situation on the social media’s Yumi Toktok Stret Facebook page.
He complained that the coconut crabs belonged to local villagers from five islands of the group intended for sale in the Port Vila market and the money to be used for school fees for their children and other basic necessities.
Fisheries officers are understood to have confiscated the coconut crabs because they say some of those who planned to sell the crabs did not have the license to sell coconut crabs.
Many supporters of the Torres Islanders say the people are not being fairly treated after last week’s Air Vanuatu flight to Torres was cancelled leaving hundreds of kilos of the crabs in the crates on the island. And it was reportedly not the first time it had happened to them.
Some opponents of the harvesting of coconut crabs in the Torres argue the stock on the islands of the Group are badly depleted and it is an endangered species and there won’t be any coconut crabs for future generations. But Emelee and his supporters says the “stock is strong and healthy”.
It is understood Fisheries officers released the confiscated coconut crabs at a conservation area of Santo, while some think the crabs should be taken back and released in Torres.