27 Mar 2004

Fiji villagers reported to be harassing tourists over water rights

7:38 am on 27 March 2004

There are reports from Fiji of villagers harassing tourists at several resorts offshore from Nadi to press claims for the use of waters which they say are traditional fishing grounds.

The villagers are reported to have been demanding money from hotel and resort owners and chasing away tourists using local waters, even to travel by boat.

Cruise ship operators have been facing threats and demands on the same issue.

The Fiji Hotel Association has expressed concern that the situation is getting out of hand and will deter tuorists and investors in Fiji's largest industry.

Police have appealed to landowners not to take the law into their own hands and threaten the post-coup economic recovery.

The harassment comes as the government is preparing legislation to return control of waters of traditional fishing grounds to their indigenous owners.