16 Jun 2006

French authorities watch as Tahiti blockades are tightened

3:19 pm on 16 June 2006

French Polynesian fishermen who are unhappy with the state of the industry have used their trawlers and boats to block the marine access to the port of Papeete.

The action coincides with a blockade of the only bridge to the port by a group of workers led by Rere Puputauki, who is an associate of the former president.

The French state is responsible for the freedom of movement but has not intervened despite a court ruling that the blockade is illegal.

Mr Puputauki has dismissed the call to lift the blockade, saying the French state did nothing to end the occupations in 2004 by those who are now in government.

He told RFO television previous action was tolerated.

"They also took the population hostage and they took hostage all the offices of all the services."

The latest action has left hundreds of people out of work for a second day running and imperils supplies to the outer islands.

The fishermen have dumped a truckload of rotten fish outside the territorial assembly, a day after doing the same outside the presidential palace.

A meeting is scheduled with the territorial government to discuss the fishermen's grievances.