A gift of fishing boats by the Australian Government to Fiji was considered a boost in fishing activities in the fisheries sectors. At a cost of $70,000 the boats were built by the boat building section of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fishery at Lami.
According to an article reported by The Fiji Times on September 11, 1987, the Australian High Commissioner, John Piper, said another eight open punts were still left to be built in Lautoka and Labasa The total cost of the project was estimated to be around $75,000.
When presenting the boats to the Fisheries Division and the Ministry for Rural Development, Mr Piper said the boats were part of a special program of cyclone rehabilitation assistance to areas in Fiji, in particular the Lau Group, Taveuni, Lomaiviti and parts of Vanua Levu which were affected by Cyclone Raja.
The boats were to be given to fishing schemes and to other new groups identified as having the potential to become viable fishing operations.
The Australian High Commissioner said over the years Australia had been pleased with Fiji’s drive in promoting its fisheries sector which has great potential as a good food source and provider of local and export income.
“Australia has been involved in providing a number of small grants including export assistance, fish provisions of punts, outboard engines and fishing gear.
“Assistance provided for tagging the ikadroka in the Rewa and Navua rivers with the aim of learning more about of these types of fish and information posters on fish available in Fiji waters are few examples of our interest in promoting knowledge of this valuable fisheries source.
“I am also pleased to see the training vessel provided in 1985, christened the Kangaroo.
“The training program for the fishermen and I hope some woman we are very pleased to be associated. “I’m impressed with the boast building capacity of the Lami Fisheries Department.
“The provision of a hostel and the boat shed under the Japanese assistance for the training program is a good example of how donors can work together to promote economic sectors in Fiji.”