Surviving the Cannery

By Emmanuel Narokobi

I got sent this today by some friends in Madang. A short doco on RD Tuna’s effects on the town. Development is coming to a town near you in PNG so what to do?


Some good links here from Jan Messersmith’s post:

I particularly liked this link about Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. Here’s an excerpt:

In Australia the practice of SLAPPS is well known to environmental and social justice activists. A SLAPP or Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation has been around in practice since the 70s when then Queensland premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen raised many nuisance law suits against his detractors as a matter of course. Such cases keep activists stressed out, cost them money and sometimes affect their ability to voice and enact actions against the company or government they are protesting. However, SLAPPS are a bit of a luxury in non-western nations. In Papua New Guinea the effect of collaboration of corporations and government have run legal and environmental roughshod over local activists and indigenous communities defending their homelands. The outrageous case of the Ok Tedi ruling, effectively making illegal the protest by affected peoples of the Ok Tedi mine, is a glaring example of this cronyism.”


19 thoughts on “Surviving the Cannery

  1. The pollution (rusty drums, plastics, waste can and filt) has seen from the single RD Tuna company looks aweful.

    The social problems as expressed have been well documented.

    As if that is not enough, the SOMARE government is trying to multiply that by a factor of 10 by the introducing Pacific Marine Industrial Zone.

    This is DEVILOPMENT ……not development.
    Leave the land and the traditional fishing grounds alone!!!

    I am not going to buy RD Tuna tinned fish anymore

    1. Bro Joe,
      I totally agree with you, since the government is not listening to the concerns of our people, the best thing to do is to hit them in their pockets where it hurts the most by not buying RD Tuna products. This can be effective if a lot of people are involved including large institutions such as schools, colleges etc……Most of these institutions are major consumers of RD Tuna products.

      We just can not sit back and wait while all these shit is happening before our eyes. These are our people suffering and they are in this situation because our government is not supporting them. Instead it is inviting more and more canneries to be established in Madang. The current problems faced by these people created by the operation of RD Tuna may increase 10 times if the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) comes into full operation. Time and time again, there is talk of social problems such as ‘sex for fish trade’, increase in STDs etc….Is this what we want for the people of Madang?????

      The worse thing about this PMIZ is it part of the governments Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This means this particular are will have its own laws and God knows the activities that will take place within that area.

      Every now and then the government’s favorite line is that these large scale industries will create employment for our people. They talk about 40,000 jobs etc……but they fail to also mention how much these workers are going to be paid.
      One finds that most of the workers in factories are from settlement areas. Companies/factories are taking advantage of displaced people and they are paying them very little. These workers can not complain because if they do, they are given marching orders right away. You find that the first people that leave their jobs are locals. People that the government claims they are going to be employed. Is our government protecting our people??????

      1. Thanks bro John for bringing this up.

        On paying local employees peanuts, a friend told me that a lady from the nearby village who used to work for RD Tuna received a fortnightly cheque of K1 some years ago. YES I SAID ONE KINA!!!!!!!! Rest went to her other obligations, which are, by the way, not much.

        The nonsense about 40,000 jobs must stop!

        On stop buying their tinpis, I doubt that they make a lot of money from supplying the local market. Bulk of it is made from export to overseas markets. So boycotting locally will not hurt their pockets as much. How do we get the international importers of their tinpis involved?

        Sampla tingting tasol.


    PNG desperately lacks the capacity, ability, drive, passion and the will to police our own laws. Top it off with corruption and we are doomed!

    Where are the big pot-bellied f***ing regulators? Where the f**k are you? Stop f***ing yo yo-ing around and put in an honest day’s work, at least for once.

    It is not Somare’s mandate to police those laws. But then he has the POWER to push the regulators into action. So USE IT for heavens sake!

  3. Thank you for your comment Bro David. The Grand Chief is not God. He cannot do everything for us. We,the people of this country, have a part to play in channelling our anger at the inaction of those in authority.

    Have you called your local member, written a letter to the editor or tried to send this video to those in authority.Bro channel your anger into doing something positive instead of swearing.You are not powerless.You man ya,wokim samting!!

  4. Justin,

    Bro mi wokim samting go na skin i pen pinis ya. Mi raitim hamaspla leta go na ol rop blong pinga i pen pinis. Tok pisin igo na maus tu i pen.

    Wonem taim bai ol biksot i harim krai blong mipla ol liklik man meri na WOKIM SAMTING STRET STRET na yumi stap?

    If it takes me to swear at someone and frighten him into action, then so be it! Bro what do you do when no one cares to listen to your pleas? Swearing is the least harmful of every other ACTION I can possibly take to make people to sit up and take notice.

    But yeah, I must apologise if you or any other innocent person out there is offended by it.

  5. Bro,

    I’ll be the first on to join any protest march,sit in or other form of civil disobedience.But I think that as citizens who are concerned about the lack of good governance in our country we have to work within the system as much as possible.

    I believe in escalation: write a letter of protest to the Madang MP’s,write a letter of protest regulator,write letter of protest to the Treasurer,write a letter of protest to the Prime Minister,write letters to the editor,raise the issue on talk back radio,organise a petition to all the above mentioned persons.If these methods don’t work form a group and do the same again under the banner of the group.

    Get WWF or Green Peace involved, keep on writing, calling, pestering. If and only if all legitimate means of raising concerns haven’t been made a difference then organise a sit in, organise a demonstrations,get the landowners to strike.

    It’s a slow process but if we follow the steps and keep records of our correspondence then we build legitimacy in the eyes of the public and we gain a begruding respect from those who can help us with our battle.

  6. Bro,

    That’s all good. But what angers me is that someone at Waigani is paid to do a job, to enforce our rules and regulations, and yet they choose not to do it.

    Do we have to pay them for doing nothing and then go through all the trouble to make them do their jobs? I don’t have time for that. I spend my time working hard and paying my taxes so that these bums can be paid to do what they are supposed to do.

    Which employer pays its employees and then turns around and begs them to actually do their jobs? It’s absurd. They already know their job descriptions and it’s not for us to remind them about it.

    If someone can’t do what he’s paid to do, then kick him out and replace him with another person who can. This is where lapun Somare must not be afraid to use his powers to kick arse and make people turn up and do their jobs properly.

  7. David,
    You are right, bulk of these people’s product land in Europe and the US. What needs to be done is to expose these issues at the consumer end in Europe and the US. I am sure some people out there will sympathize with the people on the ground adversely affected by this operation. These people just need to have the necessary and relevant information, they will decide what to do.
    I am sure the Europeans might NOT like to hear that the fish they are eating is coming in from a place where people have to suffer inorder to produce this fish and that fish is also NOT coming in from a healthy but POPULATED SPOT.
    Watch what happens when Ramu Nickel and Marengco mines start dumping their waste on the coast of Madang. Not only that, Nautilus is also going to do seabed mining in the area.
    So you see, I feel very sorry for such a place like Madang, once beautiful but now heading for complete a DISASTER.

  8. Bros,

    It is good to be concern and passionate about all these since it concerns our people and our government. I’m with you on this.

    However, I am just concern on how much right information you have pertaining to this issues cause I dont want you or anyone in this country to always sound bitter or reacted as they are being incited through misinformations. If you rely much on Nancy Sullivan for instance then I doubt that you get half of the truth as this lady, if you read her articles, seem do not know how to appreciate things and seem always ready to ridicule those investors with good intentions but herself without a good alternative to offer. Ask her if she contributed in providing employment for the people or in creating opportunities to make this country or Madang at that a develop country..she’s just a simple fault finder. What she’s doing in this country anyway? Criticising I think is her main trade. Like in her “Little Mindanao” article that speaks about PMIZ groundbreaking ceremony – she published a LIE when she said that the groundbreaking ceremony went off without the general public. I was there myself with thousand others from the sorrounding villages and witnessed this activity. A ritual of partnership with local village leaders was even initiated by the community leaders themselveswith the deputy Prime Minister . In that article also she wrote “We were turned around by everything from friendly security guards to idiot thugs. Just on the far side of the gate sat two Filipinos on motor scooters with arms crossed over their chests, chuckling… As apt a picture of the future of Madang as one could choreograph”. dicrediting PMIZ she’s trying to draw a monster in our mind to scare us and sow in our very heart ANGER to this foreigners like her. And finally, she incites us by saying “Perhaps the general public can make their interests known on this public occasion”..are we going to be there to do some debate and distract the activity?

    It seem to me that Nancy and others don’t want us to be united by inciting against investors, by criticising our leaders that muhc..this is not CONSTRUCTIVE & not a PROACTIVE way, this will disintegrate this young country. We may fail along the way in trying to do businesses with this foreign investors but we may also thing sure we will learn a lot from the whole exercise as human resource development and technology transfer will take place. And there is nothing bad in processing PNG Tuna in PNG shore than just allowing this foreign fishing companies to take our tunas away, process them in foreign land and us exporting their tin fish with soaring prices.

    Look Bros, our PNG is like a little precious child. Our Dad and Mom don’t allow us to do things which a grown child normally do..”don’t do that, don’t do this..don’t trust a stranger” as they don’t want us to hurt ourselves. But growing is a process. We will not learn to run unless we first learn how to walk..

    This is our country, our leaders is our own people..if we criticise them to the point like we are foreigners to each other then the likes of Nancy wins the day and we will remain Foreign Aid Dependent and will never learn doing business in our own land. To PRO-ACTIVIELY contribute, it is not necessary to SWEAR..why don’t we organize ourselves as a FORUM where to discuss community concerns and SEEK membership in the parliament as a representative for community causes. Or maybe Nancy and others could help Draft a Development Alternative for this country so to avoid what is termed on above comments as DEVILOPMENT. We need to spend our energy in moving forward and not in backtracking..some of the issues against RD Tuna are old issues which are biased and unverified..its funny when one would believe that “K1. forthnight check”.

    In todays highly competitive world, I am telling you, there are situations when some people are making a living by telling a lie and making misinformation drive to push a hidden they are paid to do so. In our setting, we must not rely on scholarly write-ups but rather become an independent mind. Scholarly articles wont feed people who are jobless as life is not simply a piece of blank page that a writer exploits..stories in the article carries the writers biases. Its always better to know the story behind the story.

    The likes of RD Tuna..they intend something good for this country though they probably not perfect..through exporting they represent PNG and introduce PNG to Europe and Americas..they made known to the world that PNG people are capable to produce a World Class product and builds confidence for diplomatic relations and enhance business environment. If we demean the company because we are overwhelmed by informations provided by Nancy, et al. then its like demeaning the capacity and productive strengths of our own people. Why dont we help preserve the positive side and contribute to solve the negative side by giving suggestion/solution that such company will overcome its limitations..RDTC has been providing jobs..critics did not.

    1. FYI I do employ Papua New Guineans, and have been working in development in PNG for almost 25 years, both as a socioeconomic impact specialist and an employer of a local company. I am married to a Papua New Guinea, a mother and grandmother to Papua New Guineans, and I would want none of them to be working for K60 a fornight at one of the canneries, while foreigners get management positions. Look very closely at the facts of the PMIZ and you’ll see, if you don’t already know, that the community and the country will get little if any economic or social benefits–least of all training, but absolutely no taxes from the foreign investors. Why can’t we fish the right way–with a PNG fleet, an social conscience and a consideration for the right of customary landowners?

  9. The Madang people do not need a job to survive.
    They live a healthy lifestyle with minimal social and environmental destructions. The traditional fishing grounds are taken up and polluted.

    The current problems will snowball into serious problems in the years ahead.

    There’re too many negatives in this fishy business in comparison with positives.

    I want to hear someone bomb the RD Tuna anytime soon.

    The oily talk about development and jobs really don’t matter anymore.

    1. Fred, I’m with you there. Madang lagoon people don’t need a ‘job’ to survive.

      To bro Johny Gami, the whole argument about job creation is a narrow argument if you do not demonstrate the QUALITY of jobs that have been created. By quality I mean the remuneration for Papua New Guinean labour working in this factory.

      By all first hand accounts I have, it simply is disgraceful. See my earlier post about a mother getting paid a cheque valued at K1. If this is the kind of reward for ‘jobs’ that you are talking about, then you’ve missed the ball completely. The mother could easily make K140 in two weeks (K10 per day @ 14 days) from the market then the lousy K1. Why create a job that can not better the returns from our humble markets?

      I don’t care whether the NGOs are right or wrong and I don’t care how many people RD employs. As long as Papua New Guineans are paid like slaves, RD has no place in PNG. PNG is not a cheap alternative for already criminally cheap Asian labour markets.

  10. I just reviewed the video where you Francis Gem is doing presentation…now i will ask you francis Gem, much money do you make by liaisoning with both RD Companies and NGO groups..because obviously you’re making a living both ways..I saw you several times with RD people and it seems you enjoyed the luxury there..even during the PMIZ launching, I saw you eating too much during lunch time and bringing home RD products with a big smile on your face. You exactly dont have the credibility to say what you have said in this video aside from being illogical because most of us knew long time that you are making a living both ways.

    You are making use of the privilege which some of the maliciouse NGO’s wanting to get from you..trying to find flaws of the whole exercise. Don’t deny this, you and your friends are making money both ways..we knew you liaise with RD Companies at the same time liaise with NGO’ are parasites that concerns only to earn for yourselves and sow confusion to the general public..I was there when RD fishing and companies initiated Coastal Clean-up activities in celebrating OceaN Month..have you participated? Your statements are mostly presumptions and serve only to misinform the generalo public.. You have an imbalance social education Francis..and I’m saddened by the fact that a young man like you becomes an instrument of political disorientation and sabotage of PNG economy by infusing unreasonable presentation to serve NGO’s who probably serves competing economic players whose interests is only to exploit PNG Tuna.

    Francis..think of actual situations..who provides us local employment, who introduce PNG to international markets? Its not the likes of your critical friends whose role is only to AGITATE you but offers nothing..have they contributed to advance PNG’s economy..they only criticise and bitter..don’t be a victim of misinformation.

    See, we have international NGO’s intervening in the process and they speak of bold things, of technical we have to be a parrot to immitate their unreasonable theories? What provides employment? We all know, even Nancy Sullivan is only good in finding faults.

    Francis Bro…you’re a lost soul trapped by economic demons who fought to advance their Lords inerests. Dont let them consume your youth..they played a tricky role and you..their field victim..RDTC is not a perfect company but it helps our PNG economy to move on..did Nancy help us move on to improve? She only taught us to become bitter..

    My opinion Bro..the video..obsolete and biase..I am also from Madang.. Francis Gem, you, the man in the video is Corrupt both ways–maybe a double agent..who makes a living out of all these and…funny.

    Anyways, malicious NGO’s could also make a good report out of Francis lies and makes a good money out of it..I may see Francis around. Buddy..we could PROACTIVELY contribute for the growth of our country..

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  12. We should listen to Nancy, She has many years experience ion PNG and has a heart for the people.

    Who is Johny Gami? He sounds like a Konedobu wannabee who has nothing to contribute other than the Government line.

    I bet he’s aligned to NA. Or from onbe4 of the lawyers who are lined up to suck from the teat of the Somare cow.

    NGO’s are real local people – for your information.

    You are a parasite.

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