A GROUP of former inmates lost about $13,000 after 8000 tilapia from their fish farm in Nadi mysteriously died.
Farm owner Peni Siga said the fish at his Maqalevu farm started dying last Thursday and by Sunday, all had perished.
"We don't know what happened. All we know is that when we woke up on Thursday morning, we saw some of the fish floating in the water," he said, adding that this was not the first time their farm experienced such a phenomenon.
"We've only harvested our farm twice since starting in 2010. Since then most of the fish that we breed die when we're about to harvest. We don't know what caused their deaths."
Mr Siga said he invested more than $3000 each year on fish feed and the general upkeep of the farm.
"We made more than $10,000 from our first harvest and our business grew from there. But we have to start from the ground up every time this happens."
He has not ruled out foul play.
"We reported this incident to the police and they have taken our statements and a sample of the water for testing."
He suspects that someone may have poisoned the fish.
"From the smell of the water, I think that someone poured weedkiller into the ponds."
He said the five pond farm was a project started by his parents for him and his former prison mates.
"We started this farm for our own rehabilitation as former inmates because for some of us, we may find it hard to find work because of our history. This is just something to provide money for those that come to work here.
"It's disappointing for us because we are trying to make an honest living and certain individuals are trying to keep us from making a living for ourselves and our families."
Meanwhile, the Nadi Police Station confirmed receiving Mr Siga's complaint.
Officer-in-charge Assistance Superintendent of Police Simione Bale said he would visit the farm to investigate the complaint.