Minpacalumni's Weblog

Weblog for former staff of the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs in New Zealand

Fiji Patrol boat kicks yachts off Minerva Reef?

Posted by Sai Lealea on November 27, 2010

A Fiji Blog, Fiji Today, has received an email from a yacht reporting being kicked off the remote Minerva Reef by Fiji navy patrol boats. The reef was in fact claimed and annexed by Tonga in 1972 and yachts reported they had permission from the Tongan authorities to anchor there.

An email from Peter Sidler of the vessel Green Coral was forwarded to Fiji Today with this report:

“During the morning of November 20, we and one other sailing yacht entered the North Minerva Reef and anchored there. Three other boats were already there. One left immediately after we anchored. One other boat left around noon. On leaving the Minerva Reef, that boat was hailed by a patrol boat and questions about ‘where from’ and ‘where to’ were asked.

“Around 1:00 p.m. the three remaining boats anchored in the Minerva Reef were hailed by the patrol boat. Each yacht was asked about its last port, next port and if they had permission to anchor in the Minerva Reef. All three yachts had Vava’u, Tonga, as their last port, and at least one yacht said they had written permission for a stopover in Minerva Reef on their clearance. By then we still believed that we were talking to a patrol boat from Tonga. To our surprise they told us that the permission from Vava’u was no good, that we had to get permission from Suva, Fiji, and that we had to leave the Minerva Reef immediately.

“We and the other boats argued that we believed Minerva Reef to be Tongan territory but the only response we got was: ‘No, you have to get permission from Suva.’ We were given 30 minutes to prepare for departure and leave. We left the Minerva Reef angry and frustrated and continued our journey towards Opua.”

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