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ALOFI, Niue (Niue News, May 27) – Mounting unrest at Niue's new joint fisheries venture is starting to surface.

As the first catches from Samoan boats are being unloaded at the NZ$3 million (US$2.1 million) Niue Fish Processing factory in Alofi, local fishermen are concerned at the government’s relationship with New Zealand shipping concern the Reef Group.

The island's canoe fishermen’s association is calling a public meeting to discuss a number of issues. A canoe association spokesperson says they include transparency of deals with Reef Group over licensing, quotas and accessibility to fishing areas.

Concern has also been levelled at subsidized fuel prices for foreign vessels putting the local boats at a disadvantage.

The government is unlikely to have any official representation at the meeting, the Minister of Fisheries is overseas.

The Reef Group is remaining at arms length over the issues although two Niuean directors of the processing plant are expected to attend.

Many Niuean fishermen have in the past expressed concern at licensed boats moving too close to the island shores and working over sea mounds. They want inshore stocks preserved for those who fish to provide for their families and the local market.

Selling fish from the factory on the local market has also been a concern and fishermen are hopeful they will gain backing to prevent this.

The fish factory is now selling tuna on the U.S. market. Supplies are being flown to Fiji using a chartered Convair freighter for distribution to overseas markets.

Meanwhile a team of biologists from the European Union are on the island counting reef fish and crustaceans.

May 30, 2005

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