While I was on the road most of last week, I didn’t totally miss out on the latest round of Papua New Guinea / SEASMART / EcoEZ related news.  In the interest of keeping things brief, two new developments to post up today.  First is Ret Talbot’s ongoing interest, this time discussing the possible disconnect that turned into the current rift between PNG and EcoEZ.  The main question raised – was it the bill for SEASMART’s appearance at the 2010 MACNA Convention in Orlando, FL, that caused PNG’s NFA to “pull the plug”?  I will go on the record now as saying the trip to MACNA did more exposure, and more good for the overall SEASMART project, than anything else to date.  It truly was a “coming out” and as such, it is my opinion that it was truly a colossal blunder on the part of PNG’s NFA to pull the plug on the last 3 months of funding, thus shutting down operations for at least 4.5 months now.  If PNG’s NFA was not interested in continuing to work with SEASMART past the end 0f 2010, it would have been better served to have allowed exports to continue while working to transition the program into PNG and/or EcoEZ hands – whatever the contract stipulated for such an ending of the project.  I say this based solely on the publicly available facts at hand, but it truly seems to me that especially given PNG’s hopes to restart their aquarium fish program in 2011, they would have been much better off to have never shut it down in the first place.  Again, my opinion based on the facts at hand…new information could change that.
Then, there is the truly “out of left field” January 13th, 2011, post to SEASMART’s Facebook page by former SEASMART employee Philip Sokou, who is now part of the new PNG Marine Aquarium Fishery Program.  For the record, Philip Sokou was one of the PNG natives who I had the pleasure of meeting at MACNA, and someone who truly inspired me to be more thoughtful of the PNG nationals in all this.  While Philip strikes me as a bright individual, I must express my concerns over his public post and commentary on SEASMART’s Facebook page.
The post was a photograph of a public statement in the local newspaper made by Sylvester Pokajam, Managing Director of the PNG Marine Aquarium Fishery Program.  The jist this time?  Magea Systems Limited, EcoEZ (PNG) Ltd, EcoEZ Inc. and “related parties” are no longer involved with the PNG Marine Aquarium Fishery Program which was funded by the NFA, and that property like cars and such is “subject to a charge issued by the court” and “therefore cannot be disposed of by either party until the matter is cleared by the court”. Of course, it was perhaps in poor taste that a former employee post such information to his employer’s Facebook account, but this information was allowed to remain.  What followed was the “party line” of EcoEZ that discussions of pending litigation will be avoided and are “inappropriate”, but the post was addressed with a response that the fans on Facebook probably aren’t aiming to buy a SEASMART vehicle in Port Moresby anyway.
And this is where again, I have to voice my disapproval as it seemed Philip Sokou tried to make the connection of this public release pertaining to corporate assets all about PNG fish.  He then went on to imply that SEASMART is “hiding something from your audience!”  Sadly, this back and forth largely reflects poorly on Philip Sokou and the PNG NFA,  rather than SEASMART, even if Philip Sokou knows something we all collectively do not.  At the moment, SEASMART, and PNG fish, are irrelevant, as litigation has everything tied up anyway and the NFA has made it abundantly clear that it will be going it’s own way to bring PNG fish to market.  It is not as if SEASMART is out peddling fish they don’t have that are residing in a facility that has been shut down for months.  Truly, this simply comes across as an attempt to “kick a man while he’s down”, and in the totality of the situation as we see it, it doesn’t add any points to the NFA’s side of the argument.
Rather, it would seem that both topics at hand fail to convince me that the PNG NFA is  considering their long-term best interests in pursuing ongoing relationships with non-PNG companies.  When I speculate, investigate and examine what we can find, it seems that from a business standpoint, terribly poor decision making was enacted when prematurely cutting off funding.  When I see ancillary chatter attempting to further defame a former partner, it makes us wonder if the same high standards will truly be followed when PNG is operating as a solo enterprise.   I continue to be disappointed by how this has played out, because it more and more just seems like PNG’s NFA is shooting itself in the foot.  Even if they are 110% in the right top to bottom (and they very well may be), we haven’t seen anything conclusive that would support their viewpoints, tactics, and course of action.
Just calling it like I see it at the moment.  I will continue to wait and watch the situation unfold, and hope for the best for all parties involved.