22 Mar 2011

Purse seine fishing expected to expand in Cooks

4:04 pm on 22 March 2011

More purse seine fishing is likely in the Cook Islands as it enters new agreements to try to increase the revenue from its fisheries resource.

Memorandums of understanding have just been signed with four fishing organisations as the government plans to develop three new areas to complement its northern fishery.

They include purse seining, using a bag type net, for skipjack tuna and long lining for Big eye tuna and swordfish.

There has been opposition to purse seining in the Cook Islands, but the Secretary for Marine Resources, Ben Ponia, says public perceptions will need to be overcome:

"The purse seine fishery that we would like to operate in our waters, obviously we can learn from what's happening in the Western Pacific and avoid some of the by-catch issues and so forth and that's why we're planning to enter this exploratory regime so we do low levels of fishing that we'll be able to scope out the sustainability before we move into a fully fledged commercial operation."

Ben Ponia says the Cook Islands will look most favourably on companies that base boats in Rarotonga or off load by-catch for transport or processing