Alotau People Helping Tourists – Image via Cruise Sale Finder

About Milne Bay Province

Milne Bay is the south eastern maritime province of Papua New Guinea, with a landmass of approximately 14,125 square kilometres, surrounded by two ocean masses representing the Coral Sea to the south and the Solomon Sea on the northern fringe. It is comprised of ten large islands, one hundred-fifty small islands and atolls, and large numbers of coral cays, which make up about twenty-five per cent of the provincial landmass while the rest of the seventy-five per cent forms part of the PNG mainland. Coral reefs are widespread throughout the province, and cover about 100,000 square kilometres of the sea area. The province also shares common political boundaries with the PNG provinces of Central, Oro, West New Britain and The Autonomous Region of Bougainville as well as international boundaries with Solomon Islands and Australia.

Climate, Vegetation and Land Use

Milne Bay Province has two dominant seasons, the wet monsoon occurring during the months of November to April and the dry seasons from the months of May to October. The variability in these climates extreme makes the province more vulnerable to many natural disasters like flooding, drought, bushfires, landslides, and cyclone. Man-made disasters like small craft mishaps are also common.

Microclimate variations are also prominent in some locations of the province including Alotau, Samarai, Trobriand Islands and south coast Normanby. The rainfall distribution patterns are high in most of the islands of Milne Bay with annual average distribution pattern falling between 3000 millimeters.

The tropical rainforest covers most of the mainland and larger islands of the D’Entracasteaux, the Louisiade Archipelago and the Kiriwina/Woodlark Islands. Grassland is quite extensive on the north coast and southwest of the Sagarai valley on the mainland. Larger patches of Savannah grasslands are also found on Goodenough and Ferguson Islands and other smaller islands within the province. Mangrove forest is also common on the mainland coastlines and other larger islands.

Milne Bay province has total land areas of 14,125 sq. km.Of this proportion, only 47% (6655 sq. km) is utilized while the remaining 53 per cent (7470 sq km) is still untapped. A large proportion of current land use is dominated by scattered subsistence agriculture with minimal cash cropping.Intensive land uses are dominated by moderate to high population who are involved in some forms of semi-permanent agriculture for cash crops and food production.

Economic Activities

Milne Bay Province is blessed with rich marine and terrestrial resourceand supports large scale fishery, forestry and agriculture development. Oil palm development is the largest investment project in the province netting an export value of K890.9 million for oil palm crude and K80.24 million for oil palm kennel between the years 1996 to 2012. Similarly for copra export over the same years netted a total export value over K32.85 million.Forest product export is dominated by round logs and sawn timbers. Between 1996 and 2012, the province exported in total value of K49.0 million from sawn timber and K23.26 million from round logs export.

The fishery product and export on the other hand is a larger untapped lucrative industry. Between the years 1996 to 2012 it netted in total export earningsof K88.41 million for beche-demer, K10.83 million for trochus, K5.97 million for shark fin, K1.57 million for pearl shell, K6.62 million for crayfish, K4.53 million for frozen fish, K10.77 million for chill tuna, and K1.96 million for pearl shell respectively. Milne Bay only manufacturing industry comprising dinghy netted an export earning over K1.33 million between the years 1996 to 2012.

Apart from employment in public sector, retailing industry has been the backbone of Milne Bay economy which provides employment to large number of people together with the oil palm sector. The majority of the provincial population are engaged in subsistence agriculture and fishery activities.