14 Sep 2011

Cook Islands looks to expand fisheries following talks with Spain

3:05 pm on 14 September 2011

The Cook Islands says there is potential for Spain to begin fishing in Cook Islands waters in the near future.

Delegates from the Cook Islands held bilateral talks with Spanish ambassadors at the Pacific Islands Forum, regarding fishing interests.

The Cook Islands Secretary for Marine Resources, Ben Ponia, says Spanish vessels would like to return to the region and have a more established presence while the Cook Islands would like to generate more income from fisheries.

"Within our own Economic Exclusive Zone we want to develop swordfish stocks that are found there. We also recognise that there's fishing occuring just accross our EEZ. The Spainsh fleet are operating just south of our EEZ. And if we develop our fisheries there may be opportunities for more players such as Spain to join. Alongside our own discussions, if they were fishing in our waters perhaps we could join that with market access to the EU."

Ben Ponia says most fishing takes place in the Cook Islands' northern waters by Asian and Cook Island fishing vessels.

However, there are no established fleets in the southern waters - except for domestic fleets that operate out of Rarotonga.