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Pacific News Briefs


Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The passenger ship, the MV Lady Naomi, which sailed between Samoa and American Samoa, has been intentionally sunk off the coast of Apia after 26 years of service.

With a length of 46.5 meters and a width of 11.43 meters, it was a significant presence on the waters between Apia and Pago Pago (American Samoa), as well as other neighboring countries on chartered trips. Dangerous parts that could impact marine life were carefully removed to ensure a safe and responsible sinking.

The vessel's final voyage to American Samoa was in 2023.

The Samoa Observer reported the decision to retire and sink the vessel follows its replacement by the MV Lady Samoa IV.

It was sunk into the ocean on Wednesday, June 5. The vessel now rests at a depth of more than 3,000 meters, about 25 nautical miles north of the coast of Apia.


The US Army says it's prioritizing 'responsible stewardship' of the environment of its garrison at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Garrison commander Colonel Drew Morgan said the installation is important to both the Marshall Islands and the US.

The two islands of Kwajalein and Roi-Namur are home to approximately 1300 Americans, working for the US Government as military service members, Department of Defense civilians and contractors.

Kwajalein has long been a US military testing site and the nuclear legacy has cropped up in its discussions on its Compact of Free Association with the US.

In March, a full prototype operational hypersonic missile was tested at the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site.

But the Army said they also focus on the environment in the area.

Patrick Chauvey, with the US Army Environmental Command, says Kwajalein Atoll natural resources are dominated by lagoon and ocean-based ecosystems.

"Coral reefs, along with onshore terrestrial habitat, offer a variety of unique plant and animal species that require special regulatory consideration," he said.

"The coral reef -- critical habitat for a number of species -- is sensitive to pollution from man-made activities such as sewage discharge, sediment accumulation, and dredging and filling."

The environmental team, working under an agreement with the Marshall Islands, pays special attention to several animal and plant species, including marine mammals, sea turtles, 64 coral species, marine mollusks, one marine sponge species, eight fish species and one bird species.

"Our responsibility area includes coral reefs, the mid-atoll corridor and ocean waters extending 12 nautical miles where rare, threatened and endangered terrestrial and marine species are present, including sea turtles, giant clams and seagrasses," Chauvey said.

In 2022, a rare Deraniyagala's beak whale was discovered taking refuge at the southern end of the atoll lagoon, just offshore from the garrison.

Chauvey said this species had previously been observed only through dead carcasses.

"The most spectacular aspect was that this particular species had never before been witnessed alive," he said.

"The [garrison] team produced the first photographic evidence of this rare species."

He said the University of Hawaii team is preparing a scientific publication on this information.


A Pacific regional network has deplored what they call increasing brutality on Kanak youth in New Caledonia and the deployment of thousands of troops.

New Caledonia has experienced a wave of violence with Nouméa the scene of riots, blockades, looting and deadly clashes.

France has sent armored vehicles with machine gun capability to New Caledonia to quell violence.

In a joint statement, endorsed by more than a dozen groups, including Pacific Elders' Voice and Pacific Youth Council, the Pacific Network on Globalization said liberation is the answer — not repression.

"The people of Kanaky-New Caledonia have spoken, saying yet again, any and all attempts to determine the future relationship between France and the territory, by force, and without its people, will never be accepted," the PANG statement said.

The group wants Paris to implement an impartial Eminent Persons Group (EPG) to resolve the crisis peacefully.

They also want Paris to withdraw the controversial electoral bill that prompted the violent turn of events in the territory.

"The Pacific groups, and solidarity partners therefore strongly support the affirmation of the FLNKS and other pro-independence groups — that responding to the current crisis in a political and non-repressive, non-violent manner is the only pathway towards a viable solution," PANG said in a statement.


The final management plan and environmental assessment for the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument has been released.

The Mariana Trench monument was part of a marine protection area announced by then-U.S. president George Bush in 2009.

The Mariana Trench includes submerged active volcanoes and hydrothermal vents and the deepest point on earth.

Under the management plan, the US Fish and Service, NOAA Fisheries, and the CNMI will work as a monument management team to engage partners; conserve and protect the marine ecosystem; and establish stewardship, research, exploration, engagement and education programs that further understanding and connect people to the unique ecosystem and its inhabitants.

Shared learning and outreach activities will focus on providing traditional access and cultural use, developing locally relevant curriculum and educational opportunities about the unique environment of the Mariana Trench, and the sea life protected in it.

The plan provides the foundation for long-term collaborative management and community stewardship of the monument, where public and community involvement will be key to achieving the plan's vision and goals over the next 15 years.


Security measures have been tightened at the Air Vanuatu head office after the national carrier announced mass redundancies.

There are reports of office vehicles, including trucks and buses, being taken from the premises.

According to an email obtained by the Vanuatu Daily Post, there are bleak prospects for the continuation of operations.

Air Vanuatu's domestic operations have come to a halt and the company has been placed in liquidation.


The Samoa government says fears of a brain drain is why it's keeping the new Australian Pacific Engagement Visa at arm's length for now.

The inaugural Pacific Engagement Visa ballot opened this week and offers people and their families permanent residency in Australia.

The Samoa Observer reported while the opportunity is available to Pacific nations, Samoa's Finance Minister Lautimuia Uelese Vaai said there were factors the government took into account, including an impact on the economy.


Six Papua New Guinea policemen, who had been charged with breaking into a bottle shop last New Year's Eve, have been discharged because their police files had not been properly serviced.

The men, who were on bail, appeared in the Committal Court at Waigani in Port Moresby.

The National reported the magistrate telling the men that their discharge is not the equivalent of an acquittal.

Albert Daniels said the policemen could be brought back to court if police choose to hand up the police file.


South Korea's Asiana Airlines is set to close its Saipan office for good.

The carrier's Saipan regional sales office manager, Intak Hwang, says after three decades of service in the Northern Mariana Islands, their last operation will be on 30 June.

Hwang said the airline has been promoting Korean tourism in the CNMI since 1992.

The closure comes at the heels of Hyatt Regency Saipan closing the doors on the islands' first brand hotel at the end of this month.


The governments of Nauru and Australia have signed an agreement which provides $1.7million Australian dollars for education.

The funds will support Nauruan students studying in Brisbane, and contribute to supporting expatriate teachers, as well as programs run by TAFE Queensland, a vocational school.

Financial assistance is also provided to enable year 12 students to receive an Australian certificate upon completing high school.

(Source: RNZ Pacific)