27 Jul 2005

Cook Islands government aware of longline fishing industry problems

3:26 pm on 27 July 2005

The Cook Islands Minister of Marine Resources, Tupou Faireka, is to discuss the possibility of French Polynesia becoming involved in its longline fishing industry.

Only 13 boats remain operating out of a total of 60 licenses issued five years ago and there are concerns that this number will fall even further next season.

Mr Faireka says he'll be talking to his counterpart from Tahiti and the president of French Polynesia, Oscar Temaru, when they visit the Cook Islands next week.

The minister says he's aware that the longline industry is fighting for its survival and they are hoping to attract support from French Polynesia.

"That's the first possibility we're going to look at. To see how we can issue fishing licenses to Tahitian fishing operators. And, when they fish in the Cook Islands, if they could leave their catch and use the Cook Islands processing factory."

Mr Faireka says they will also approach the New Zealand government for assistance.

He says there are a number of problems facing the industry, including a vast exclusive economic zone, too little data on the migrating fish and high costs of operating.