2 Feb 2004

Many fishing licenses in Fiji might not be re-confirmed

7:27 am on 2 February 2004

The owner of one of Fiji's largest fishing companies says only half the boats currently licensed to fish the country's waters, will have them reconfirmed.

Graham Southwick, who is the managing director of Fiji Fish Marketing, says the government has given temporary licenses to the more than 100 boats currently operating.

But, he says there may only be 50 boats which will meet the strict criteria that has been set in place.

"The criteria requires positive ownership of vessels, it requires indigenous partners that have a genuine ownership in the companies. There's a whole list of criteria that 50 vessels simply cannot fulfil because they are owned by the government of China so there is no way that an indigenous Fijian can have a legitimate shareholding in a vessel that belongs to the government of China."

Graham Southwick says the deadline for providing the appropriate information is the 29th February.

Allegations were made late last year that Fisheries ministry staff were involved in taking bribes for licenses.