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Vanuatu Government Seeks Apology From Fiji Paper

Pacific Media Watch

Vanuatu Government Seeks Apology From Fiji Newspaper

SUVA (Pacnews) - The Vanuatu Government wants the Daily Post newspaper in Fiji to apologise for a recent front page article which alleged that Vanuatu authorities held Fiji seamen at gunpoint after their vessel was found fishing illegally in the country's exclusive economic zone.

The Daily Post article on February 16 carried the headline "Drama on the High Seas: Fiji Men Held at Gunpoint". The Vanuatu Government has written to the Fisheries Department in Fiji seeking an apology from the newspaper for what it describes as "irresponsible reporting".

The article claimed that a Vanuatu naval patrol boat had arrested the "Sun 7", a vessel owned by the Pacific Fishing Company (PAFCO) in Fiji. The article said Fijian crew members were held at gunpoint, hand cuffed, had their catch confiscated and ordered out of Vanuatu waters.

The Vanuatu authorities said they don't have any records of the arrest. According to them, the naval patrol boat did not conduct any sea surveillance that week, instead it has been in Port Vila for the last two weeks. The authorities also said the vessel mentioned in the article, Sun 7, is licensed to fish in Vanuatu Waters, so it is unlikely their patrol boat will arrest a legally licensed foreign fishing vessel operating in Vanuatu waters.

Investigations by the Fiji Fisheries Division have revealed that Sun 7 was on the slipway in Suva at the time of the alleged incident. The Vanuatu Government wants the newspaper to apologise to its law enforcement authorities for the embarrassment caused by the story....PNS

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