Pacific news in brief for July 9

Guam – extension

The people of Guam have been thrown a lifeline extension to submit feedback on long-term missile testing on the US island territory.

Concerned about the testing, Guam’s acting governor Joshua Tenorio requested a 60-day extension to fully grasp the impacts on landowners and residents.

The US Missile Defense Agency has granted an extension of 30 days, not the requested 60 for submissions.

The plan proposes missile testing twice a year over the next decade from Andersen Air Force Base.

There are concerns over potential disruptions to residents and landowners if the testing goes ahead.

Elected officials asked the military to extend the comment period to review the 378-page environmental assessment which states tests could require public and private land in the vicinity to be closed or restricted for up to four days at a time.

A public meeting has been set down for 25 July. People can have now their say until 2 August.

Samoa – deported

A Chinese national who tried to bribe a senior Samoa bureaucrat is to be deported, after serving a six month jail sentence and paying a fine of $130,000 tālā.

The Samoa Observer reported China national Qinping Yang pleaded guilty to one count of prohibited export – in relation to trying to export sea cucumbers and similar species – and one count of bribing a government official.

He went to a Customs official’s house to try and get the container cleared without inspection.

District Court Judge Matautia Raymond Schuster said the attempt to bribe a government official with $5000 tālā was serious and warrants a harsh penalty.

West Papua – land

In West Papua, 245,506 hectares of land is under review to be recognised as customary forest land.

Local advocates say the livelihoods of indigenous people are dependent on the existence of customary forest grounds, which they feel are threatened by the palm oil industry.

JubiTV reported an estimated 2.6 million hectares of land in Papua New Guinea is currently used by industrial plantation companies.

Submissions were made by nine clans of the Wambon Kenemopte Tribe, in Boven Digoel Regency, South Papua in an effort to reclaim control over indigenous land.

Palau – seats

Palau’s Senate is set to get two more seats under a 2024 plan from the Congressional Reapportionment Commission.

The final plan maintains a single senatorial district and increases Senate seats from 13 to 15.

According to the plan, this aims to enhance constituent access to elected officials, ensuring more equal representation and a broader distribution of political power.

The Island Times reported key factors considered in the plan included the latest population data, the need for equal representation, and the operational expenses of the Senate.

Palau – agribusiness

The largest grant-funded project by the European Union in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific is reaping the fruits of its harvest.

With a focus on training and upskilling farmers, the EU-STREIT PNG Programme in East and West Sepik has benefited nearly half a million people and supported more than 750 agribusiness groups.

Farmer Fabian Homboku from Huareheng village is the latest farmer to be supported through fish farming, vanilla cultivation and Cocoa plantations.

He has since passed on his fishing skills to one-thousand farmers across 12 villages.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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