For the first time, the Cook Islands government is putting out to tender licences for exploratory fishing within its exclusive economic zone.
Cabinet last week approved ten licences for swordfish and ten for bigeye tuna.
The Secretary of Marine Resources, Ben Ponia says so far there has been much interest from foreign fishermen and says the government hopes those awarded the licences will help with important data collection.
"As a result of the exploratory fishing, we want to help define firstly whether we have fish stocks there, and if there are, to what level can they be sustainably fished. And as a result of that, understanding these parameters we can therefore go ahead and regulate those fisheries and manage them as such."
Ben Ponia says the government hopes the new licences will lead to joint ventures, revenue generation and more fish exports.