Pacific

Pacific bishops to head to Rome for family meeting

The Fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is set to take place from October the 4th to the 25th and will look at the role of the family in the church and the world.

The bishop of Tonga, Cardinal Soane Patita Mafi, and the Archbishop of Suva, Peter Loy Chong, will join the bishop of Kundiawa, Anton Bal, who will represent Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

Cardinal John Dew, of Wellington, will also travel to Rome.

Tsunami advisory lifted in American Samoa

Tsunami warnings were in place for much of the Pacific following yesterday's massive 8.3 earthquake in Chile.

The earthquake has claimed at least 11 lives in Chile.

The Pacific Tsunami warning Centre has now advised that there is no further tsunami threat for American Samoa as a result of the massive earthquake in Chile.

However residents have been advised to be observant and exercise normal caution if you are in or near the ocean.

Pacific lawyers gather for conference

There are about 1700 lawyers in the Pacific, excluding Australia and New Zealand, and about 100 of them are expected at the two-day conference being run by the South Pacific Lawyers Association.

Its chairman, Ross Ray QC, says the meeting will include sessions on issues such as document drafting, case analysis, commercial law and legal aid.

He says the conference is a good opportunity to promote ties between the different law societies across the region.

NZ-led task force to help Pacific nations during future disasters

The multiple-national operation, called Tropic Twilight, will provide relief to the remote islands of the Pacific, such as the northern Cook Islands atoll of Manihiki.

In 1997, Cyclone Martin sent waves reportedly higher than coconut trees over the small island, killing 19 people.

And preventing future disasters has become a priority for the New Zealand Defence Force, which has been strengthening existing building on the island.

El Nino set to be strongest ever

The developing El Nino is stronger than the last major event of its type in 1997.

According to the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the UK Met Office, this El Nino is shaping up to be the strongest since records began in 1950.

El Nino is a natural phenomenon which occurs every two to seven years and lasts between six and 18 months.

Papua New Guinea and Pacific Community mark new era

The people of Papua New Guinea stand to benefit from the new agreement between their government and the Pacific region’s principal scientific and technical organisation which will strengthen ties to address the country’s complex development challenges in a more holistic way.

“This agreement is based on a genuine spirit of collaboration in which our government and the Pacific Community will seek to complement one another’s efforts more and embrace the contributions of other partners to achieve development outcomes that will assist the people who need it most,” Minister Pato said.

NZ has a lot to learn about Pacific Tuna: PNA

Dr Aqorau was responding to a New Zealand-led push at the Pacific Islands Forum to help shift the region away from daily catches via the Vessel Day Scheme.

The scheme has brought rising incomes to PNA countries but New Zealand says advances in technology and bigger fishing boats are resulting in larger catches which could render the scheme unsustainable.

Dr Aqorau says the only areas in which unsustainable catches are occurring are those outside the control of its Vessel Day Scheme.

Big fish harvest anticipated in Marshall Islands

Rongelap Mayor James Matayoshi said this week that the first harvest is just a few weeks away. The fish farming work is being run by the Atoll Technologies of the Marshall Islands or ATMI, a local company in partnership with off-shore investors that was developed by the Rongelap Atoll Local Government with the aim of developing fish farming export ventures on remote atolls around this western Pacific nation.

“I hope over the next three to five years, we will mature as a big company for export markets,” he said. “The market is there in the United States and Asia.”

Survey of Australians' attitudes to aid yields mixed results

Researchers from the Australian National University surveyed Australians about their opinions of foreign aid and what they expect from their aid programme.

One of the authors, Terence Wood, says in a nutshell, the research found most Australians support the government giving aid, even though many don't actually know how much Australia gives or where.

However, he says the public is also fairly comfortable with the amount of money given being reduced - but not to the Pacific.

Pacific region awash with asbestos

A survey has found that some South Pacific countries are awash with the hazardous building material which can lead to lung diseases or cancer.

The Pacific environment agency SPREP says that until now there's only been anecdotal evidence about the quantity and condition of asbestos in the region.

SPREP's Pacwaste project manager, Stewart Williams, says the survey, done with European Union assistance, found that the once-common building material is widespread, including in public buildings such as schools and hospitals.