23 Oct 2002

Growing anger on Fiji's Rabi Island over deaths of fishermen

11:56 am on 23 October 2002

The people of Rabi Island in Fiji are demanding government action on Asian fishing boats, even if it means banning them from the country.

The Fiji Sun reports that this follows the disappearance of yet another fisherman from the island from an Asian fishing vessel in Vanuatu waters last Thursday.

Earlier, a Rabi islander was reported missing from a boat in Tuvalu waters last month and a third was found dead on the high seas with marks on his body.

A spokesman for the Rabi islanders, Piti Atauea, says the islanders are furious and so hungry for revenge that they want to travel to Suva and attack all Asian fishing boats at anchor.

Mr Atauea says the islanders find it hard to believe explanations that all these fisherman could have "fallen overboard or committed suicide".

He says the men have taken up employment on Asian fishing boats to earn their livelihoods, but instead they are dying or just disappearing.

Rabi Islanders are originally from Banaba Island in Kiribati who settled in Fiji after their home was devastated by phosphate mining about fifty years ago.