Illegal fishing boat concerns islanders

An illegal fishing boat sighted off the waters of Fead Island in the atolls of Bougainville has now raised concerns amongst Bougainvilleans.

The fishing boat, of Asian origin, has now stirred up fear amongst islanders as the boat’s crew is suspected of being in possession of firearms.

A disaster coordinator on Bougainville said the ship was sighted by locals and has been there for quite a while now.

“We received the report and alerted the police here in Buka, a joint task force was formed consisting of members of the Bougainville Police Service and ex-combatants, who were then deployed to inspect and do reconnaissance work,” Franklyn Lacey said.

“Right now we’re suspecting that boat must be part of a very big syndicate funded by millionaires. They have some very sophisticated equipment because when you see it this moment the next it is gone, when the police approached... it was long gone then it reappeared again.”

Lacey said the vessel has been evading the police ever since they were doing their surveillance and they have a radar which is working perfectly well.

The absence of patrol boats has resulted in these illegal vessels entering PNG waters, especially in the atolls of Bougainville.

Peterson Tseraha