8 Jul 2010

Cooks deal nets huge fine in bid to curb illegal fishing

3:08 pm on 8 July 2010

An out-of-court settlement has been agreed to by the Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources and three fishing vessels found illegally fishing within the Cook Islands EEZ.

The vessels are flagged in China and Taiwan and the out-of-court settlement requires them to pay the ministry more than 1.4 million US dollars.

The illegal fishing activity was detected by the Offshore Fisheries Division using the vessel monitoring systems established by the Forum Fisheries Agency,

A small team of Marine Resources officials negotiated the settlement with the parties concerned.

Our correspondent in the Cook Islands, Flo Syme-Buchanan reports.

"The Cook Islands is known for its hard line on illegal fishing which is thought to have reached epidemic proportions in the Pacific. Cook Islands laws against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing are tough providing for a penalty of over 700,000 US dollars plus forfeiture of the fishing vessel, gear and catch. Marine Resources head Ben Ponia says he's satisfied with the terms of agreement which sends out a consistent message of deterrence for illegal fishing and also provides compensation to the Crown."