NEC approves Jomard Passage as marine sea pilotage area

Monday, 27 July 2020

The National Executive Council has approved the Jomard Passage in the waters of Milne Bay Province as a Mandatory Pilotage and Marine Conservation area.

It means the marine life surrounding the Jomard Island is extremely diverse in nature and must be protected from impacts of shipping like oil spills, marine debris and physical harm caused by grounding of ships/vessels.

Jomard is located between Milne Bay’s Louisiade Archipelago and the Passage connects the Solomon’s Seas with the Coral Sea.

The Prime Minister, Hon. James Marape has commended the Milne Bay Provincial Government for making a submission to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to declare Jomard Island as a Particular Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) that needs special protection.

He said, that area must be protected because of its ecological, social-economic and scientific significance of which may be damaged due to results of international maritime activities.

On a daily basis, an average of 27 large commercial ships pass through the Jomard Passage from the ports of eastern seaboard of Australia and North Asian ports.

“The NEC decisions mean that PNG marine pilots will steer any vessel or ships passing through the Jomard Passage to berth, load and or unload cargoes in Milne Bay province waters and others.

“Marine pilotage plays a pivotal role in marine safety around the world and many countries use specialized marine pilots to navigate ships through their domestic waterways and Jomard Passage falls into that category

“The recognition by UNESCO to create Jomard Island a particular sensitive sea area is a vehicle to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as avoiding environmental pollution and using the Jomard Passage as a Marine Protected Area, also as a tourism product is good for PNG.

“It is the Milne Bay Provincial Government’s brainchild and has spent over K1.3 million to establish a project working committee,” said Prime Minister Marape.

The Government is also supportive of the creation of a Special Purpose Authority to coordinate the implementation of the Jomard Passage project and related developments, landowner and security issues.

Prime Minister Marape said it is a significant international shipping transit route for international vessels from the Southern Pacific to the Northern Pacific and vice versa.

“Currently it is not a mandatory Pilotage Area; therefore, masters of both international and domestic ships are allowed to navigate through the Jomard Passage on their own posing a significant risk of grounding.

“The need for PNG to implement mandatory Pilotage within the Jomard passage is not only to increase safety of navigation of ships and protection of vulnerable marine life forms, but can also be a significant revenue earner both for the country and Milne Bay Provincial Government,” said Prime Minister Marape.

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