5 Nov 2003

Stranded Fiji fishermen stage a hunger strike

4:58 pm on 5 November 2003

Fishermen among a group of 40 who were stranded on a remote Fiji Island for more than a month have started a hunger strike.

The brother of one of the hunger strikers, Timoci Cola, says their action is to draw attention to their plight.

The men were arrested last month for illegal fishing when they were diving for beche-de-mer in Lau waters, but have not been charged and have remained stranded on Yagasa Island.

The men are alleged to have been fishing in traditional fishing grounds under the jurisdiction of Lau chief Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

Mr Cola says they had paid five thousand US dollars to the Lau Provincial Council and had permission to fish, but the council denies any payment was made.