13 Mar 2014

Upset at Cook Islands' timid response to shark finning offences

7:34 pm on 13 March 2014

The leader of the opposition Democratic Party in the Cook Islands says a decision by maritime officials to let go a Chinese-flagged longliner discovered with shark fins onboard reflects badly on the country.

Shark fishing is illegal in the Cook Islands as is the transport and possession of shark or shark parts.

Wilkie Rasmussen says the boat should have been confiscated and brought back into the harbour but that wasn't done.

Mr Rasmussen wants maritime officials and the government to explain why the vessel's owners were not charged.

"We also expect some sort of action to be taken against a vessel that has clearly breached our sanctuary and of course breached the laws that prohibits the finning of sharks in our waters."

Wilkie Rasmussen says the Cook Islands has been declared a shark sanctuary and to not have charged the vessel is a terrible indictment.

The Ministry of Marine Resources says it will talk with Chinese authorities about the eight kilograms of shark fins found onboard the vessel, through the settlement processes within the Tuna Commission.