26 Jul 2005

Cook Islands fledgling fishing industry fighting to survive

3:28 pm on 26 July 2005

A prominent Cook Islands businessman says some assistance is required to ensure that the country's fledgling fishing industry survives.

Brett Porter was speaking in the wake of the announcement that a Taiwanese fishing company, Gilontas, is likely to pull its five boats out of the country due to high operating costs.

Mr Porter, who owns Cook Islands Fish Exports, which runs a fish processing plant, says this leaves only eight longline boats to fish 2.2 million square kilometres.

He says although the area is the country's biggest natural resource, too little is known about it.

Mr Porter says five years ago, companies were granted a license after paying a fee and nothing else was required from them.

"They weren't required to provide any catch history or any information on the fishery at all. When the Cook Islands government took it back, we were basically starting again. And, it's going to require a lot of research to work out where the fish come into our waters and where they exit, and when they're here."

Mr Porter says it's unlikely the government could afford to fund the research required so some external assistance may be necessary.