20 Dec 2004

Fiji company wants out of court settlement after French interception

4:32 pm on 20 December 2004

One of the owners of a Fiji fishing vessel which was held by the French Navy for several days last month says he hopes France will settle his compensation case out of court.

The navy intercepted the vessel for allegedly fishing illegally in New Caledonia's waters but let it go after escorting it to Noumea.

The Fiji Fish Marketing managing director, Graham Southwick, says the boat was seized in Vanuatu waters where it was licensed to fish.

Mr Southwick says the incident cost him an estimated 100,000 US dollar loss.

He says France has not apologised and he hopes the interception can be settled without going to court.

"They let it go because they were getting severely embarrassed about the whole thing."

France has in recent years imposed heavy fines for illegal fishing.

It said it was lenient in Mr Southwick's case because the crew co-operated.