16 Apr 2013

Cook Islands eyes to limit longline tuna catches

2:16 pm on 16 April 2013

The Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources is planning to introduce a self-imposed total allowable catch on tuna caught from longline fishing after the biggest haul on record was made last year.

At least 11,000 tonnes of tuna was caught in Cook Islands waters in 2012 and the secretary of Marine Resources, Ben Ponia, says the ministry is now in a position where it can move towards getting more value from the catches.

Mr Ponia says it plans to start issuing licences that limit vessels to a certain quota, which also must be within the framework of what is set as a total allowable catch.

"We're only foreshadowing the trend that's about to emerge and I think a number of countries are beginning to think about their own zone based allocations and so the fishing fleets will have to starting thinking quite seriously about how they are going to fit into that framework."

Ben Ponia says future fishing quotas imposed by the Ministry will be implemented first in the bigeye tuna fishery.

He says the Ministry is also seeking a Memorandum of Understanding to enter a partnership with the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, which sets out rules for tuna purse seine fishing in the region.