12 Feb 2008

Varying rates charged for access to Fiji's inshore fisheries angers a leading NGO

5:00 pm on 12 February 2008

The management of customary fishing grounds in Fiji is again under scrutiny.

The Chief Executive of the Citizens Constitutional Forum , the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, has said it is racist to charge local landowners a license fee that is only a tenth of that paid by Indian fishers.

He says local justification of the practice on the grounds that Fijian families have greater obligations amounts to racial stereotyping:

"In this nation most of the owners of fishing grounds are indigenous Fijians and most of the fisherfolk are largely Indo-Fijians and therefore this is an area here where racism is bound to be issue.and therefore you need principles of good governance to be in place."

However, the paramount chief in the region, Ratu Ovini Bokini, says it is not a matter of racism, more one of landowners having rights and those who do not have rights, whoever they are, paying more