Pacific islands against dumping Fukushima waters at sea

Papua New Guinea's fisheries minister is calling for a joint stance to stop Japan's long-announced action at the plant where the 2011 accident occurred. "It would be further damage to us already suffering from the effects of climate change," he says.

Port Moresby (AsiaNews) - Oceania's islands are also taking a stand against the Japanese government's decision to discharge into the sea in the coming months the water used to cool the Fukushima power plant after the reactor accident in 2011.

Papua New Guinea's Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Jelta Wong, called on the leaders of the 16 countries that make up the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) to take a stand together against Tokyo's plan.

'Small islands in the Pacific and around the world,' Minister Wong wrote in the appeal, 'are facing horror and devastation from climate change caused by industrial superpowers around the world, and in the face of all this the Japanese government sees fit to put lives and our precious Pacific resources at risk with this reckless action. Wong stated

The PIF, a body of which most of the independent islands in the South Pacific are members, has already established a panel to conduct an independent assessment. The panel has called for full disclosure of scientific data and information to enable an assessment of safety and environmental and health impacts.

China and Korea, which share maritime borders with Japan, have also called for a halt to planned discharges in the coming months, and asked for more consultation with all stakeholders. And Japan's domestic fishing industry itself has expressed concern, fearing a reputational risk.

However, the Kishida government has confirmed its intention to go ahead, claiming that the analyses of the water that has accumulated over the years and has now almost filled the reservoirs do not show any radioactivity values that warrant alarm.

"Who owns the boats that fish in our region? Who owns the processing plants on land? - writes the Papua New Guinea minister again. We must warn Japan: if you want to use our resources, you are obliged to help us protect them. The Pacific Ocean does not belong to Japan, it belongs to the Pacific'.

Meanwhile, Minister Wong also spoke of Papua New Guinea's plan to create an intergenerational endowment fund for fisheries in the region to secure the future of Pacific economies with sufficient and stable revenues from fisheries.

The proposal is to involve the signatory countries of the Nauru Agreement, a regional treaty on the sustainability of tuna fisheries involving Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu with Tokelau. The aim of the fund would be 'to eliminate the dependence of our countries on donors and so-called partners'.