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PNG Press: PNG Crocodile Industry Under Threat

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Posted by W von Papinešu on April 05, 2003 at 20:28:21:

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (Post-Courier): Papua New Guinea stands to lose its crocodile skin export trade if it continues to fail to do annual surveys, Environment and Conservation Minister Zibe Sasa warned yesterday.
"PNG had already breached CITIES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) convention secretariat condition due to its non-compliance," Sasa said.
He said crocodiles were one of the most important revenue-raising resources in the swamp and river areas and should be maintained and managed in a sustainable manner.
The crocodile skin export industry earns an average income of K3 million to K5 million each year for the rural population and the government through its management and export levy.
Sasa said although crocodiles were protected under the Crocodile Trade Protection Act, the CITIES Convention had allowed PNG to continue to trade in its skins.
"We have a reputable crocodile resource management system in place. The skins from the farmed animals compliment the wild-caught crocodile skins and help the crocodile skins export to continue, he said.
"If we (PNG) do not have the numbers in the wild then it is most likely that we terminate the crocodile industry in PNG."
Sasaís warning follows the completion of an annual aerial survey of crocodiles recently.
Annual surveying of crocodiles is an international obligation under the convention.
Papua New Guinea is the only one of the CITIES contracting parties in the world given a dispensation to trade in crocodile skins from the wild.
The survey of crocodile nesting was conducted in the Upper-Middle region of Ambunti district of East Sepik Province with encouraging results.
Sasa said the study indicated a significant increase in the nesting activity of the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) as compared to the last survey conducted in 1998.
He expressed concern over the failure by successive governments since 1998 in providing the required funds to carry out the annual crocodile survey.
He said during the last four years it was not possible to know whether the crocodile population in Ambunti had increased, decreased or had remained stable.
The study this year was made possible following the release of K200,000 by Finance and Treasury Department. He thanked Treasurer Bart Philemon and his staff for recognizing the importance of crocodile surveying and the subsequent release of the needed funds.
He also appealed to the people in all crocodile breeding and hunting regions to practice sustainable methods to keep the crocodile population.

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