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SUVA. Fiji (Fiji Times, Mar. 20) – The Fiji Fisheries Department is tightening its procedures on fishing license applications, chief executive Mitieli Baleivanualala said yesterday.

This is to fight against possible corruption in the process.

[Fiji Fish Limited head Grahame Southwick has been critical of the agency’s licensing policy, saying too many licenses have been approved for the good of the industry.]

"Last year we saw 83 licenses issued and the damage on the industry was severe," Mr Southwick said. "Just look at the number of boats sitting idle out there. We asked Mr Baleivanualala to put a hold on the 60 licenses issued so far until the Asian Development Bank's tuna industry report is out. But there has been no commitment from him."

But Mr Baleivanualala said as civil servants, ministry officials could only work according to the Government's policies on the number of licenses to be issued for 2004-2005.

"Cabinet has set the license at 110 per year. We have issued 58 so far this year and have approved 62. It is up to Cabinet to reduce or stay the number of licenses issued. We have no say in that," Mr Baleivanualala said.

He said of the 12 or 13 boats fishing in Fiji's archipelago, nine belonged to Mr Southwick.

"So what is he jumping up and down about?"

March 21, 2005

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