8 Sep 2016

Cooks traditional leaders seek help to take on EU

8:08 pm on 8 September 2016

Cook Islands traditional leaders are appealing for financial help for a legal battle to stop European Union super purse seiners getting a permanent foothold in the country's waters.

The traditional leaders or aronga mana want to stop the Cook Islands entering into an agreement with the EU that would initially result in four purse seiners from Spain and France harvesting the country's fish.

In a bid to stop the Cook Islands entering into a partnership agreement with the EU, the aronga mana and environmental group Te Ipukarea Society, filed an application for a judicial review last November.

Protesters in the Cook Islands protest a draft deal between their government and the European Union.

Protesters take to the streets in 2015 to protest a draft deal between their government and the European Union. Photo: Flo Syme Buchanan

The aronga mana are launching a financial appeal this week and the government is expected to make a counter application in the High Court this month for the judicial review to be struck out.

However the Aronga Mana said this will be vigorously opposed saying the people's voices must be heard

Over 4,000 Cook Islanders, representing 33 percent of the Cook Islands population have signed an anti-purse seining petition

The Aronga Mana have questioned how the signature of one person, the secretary of Marine Resources Ben Ponia, on the EU partnership agreement can carry more weight than 4,000 people in opposition.

A select committee charged with examining the controversial purse seining issue in the Cook Islands has completed its report which is expected to be tabled in Parliament next week.