By PMIZ Watcher
The Environmental Impact Assessment for the government's Pacific Marine Industrial Zone in Madang paints a terrible picture of the likely social and environmental impacts of the project.
The 39-page EIS was prepared by the Department of Commerce and Industry in June 2010 and submitted to the Department of Environment and Conservation.
Although the EIS reveals local communities are "opposing the project"; the land clearance will have "significant human health and welfare implications"; the area "has immense significance in biodiversity, aesthetics and tourism"; and the land clearance work "will seriously affect local fishing grounds, nearby on-shore reefs and mangrove systems" which are home to globally endangered species, Environment Minister, Benny Allen, last week approved the project.
The EIS says local communities oppose the project because of issues over "land, participation and environment degradation" and these socio-cultural issues "could eventually undermine the economic viability of the project". Local communities, say the EIS, argue the land for the PMIZ was "acquired fraudulently" by RD Tuna and the government.
The EIS says labor importation will be needed to meet scheduled goals and objectives. People from within PNG and abroad will work within the project. Health issues may include STDs and HIV/Aids, typhoid, cholera and dysentery and conflicts between local communities and imported workers. The PMIZ will lead to an increase in squatter settlements and encroachment onto customary land.
Other human and health risks disclosed in the EIS include sewerage spills; loss of subsistence use of land, recreation and local economic opportunities; destruction of cultural sites, tourism potential and aesthetic values; and transmittable diseases.
The EIS reveals local women are already "forced to exchange sex for fish" and the PMIZ will increase this problem. At the existing RD tuna cannery, "employment conditions for local workers are poor" and local communities say the factory has not brought tangible benefits.
The EIS describes Madang lagoon as the largest and most ecologically diverse on this stretch of coast – which is known to be a hot-spot for marine benthic invertebrates. The lagoon has an unusually rich biodiversity and is "conservatively estimated" to contain 700 species of coral and 1,000+ species of reef fish.
An amazing variety of new marine species have been discovered in and around Madang lagoon in recent years, broadening our knowledge of fishes, soft and hard corals, nudibranchs, flatworms, polychete worms, sea stars, feather stars, amphipods and sea cucumber to name a few.
The EIS says there are two endemic species of fish and two globally endangered fish species in the area. Also two species of globally endangered turtles have been sighted in the project area. The EIS says the lagoon is home to three endangered mammal species. On land, four fauna species are listed in CITES Appendix 2 – rainbow lorikeet, eclectus parrot, freshwater crocodile and lizard.
The EIS covers the site development activities only and not the construction of the planned industrial factories and facilities.
The PMIZ will eventually include a wharf and pier, fish port and canneries, cold storage facility, fuel depot, roads, residential complex, water treatment and electricity plants, container terminal and administrative buildings.