23 Dec 2003

Threat of legal moves to stop Fiji government issuing fishing licenses

11:39 am on 23 December 2003

The Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association has threatened legal action against the government if the ministry of fisheries continues to issue fishing licenses.

The Association's spokesman and Fiji Fish Limited's managing director, Graham Southwick says their lawyers have been asked to prepare papers to initiate legal action if licenses are issued.

Mr Southwick has called on the government to freeze all licenses until the outcome of police investigations and a commission of inquiry are complete.

He says any licenses issued now could be nullified and the government would face substantial compensation claims.

He says licenses are not being issued for good reasons, but to put money into the pockets of corrupt officials.

Meanwhile, the same officials have warned Mr Southwick that his tuna boats on fishing trips in the next few days will be operating illegally after their licenses expire on December 31st.

Mr Southwick says the license issue should have been decided long ago and the threat now to have the boats sitting at anchor is not acceptable.