Cooks Opposition says Spanish fishing deal a sell out
The opposition Democratic Party in the Cook Islands says in signing a deal with Spanish purse seiners the government's abandoned principle in favour of money.
The Opposition Democratic Party in the Cook Islands says in signing a deal with Spanish purse seiners the government's abandoned principle in favour of money.
The four year deal involves licences for four purse seiners to operate in the country's waters.
The Opposition's James Beer told Don Wiseman their position remains that it will phase out purse seine fishing, which he calls the most environmentally destructive form of fishing,
JAMES BEER: We've got at the moment this petition that hasn't been able to go to parliament, that hasn't had the opportunity to be tabled in parliament primarily because this government continues to abrogate any opportunity to get parliament to call despite the fact we have both this petition and a number of other pressing issues that need to be dealt with. And they can only be dealt with in parliament.
DON WISEMAN: The government would say the country's fishing industry has been in the doldrums for some time, it wants to try and stimulate activity or at least earn something from it. And it is going to earn some money from selling these licences, isn't it?
JB: Well that's correct. I mean we understand, we aim to get about $9 million but one of the more disgraceful parts about it is that Kiribati in which the Spanish purse seiners were previously based have long stated that when that period of time expires for the Spanish purse seiners they will be finishing up in Kiribati. But meanwhile the Cook Islands without taking a firm stand on this destructive fishing process decided to keep this Spanish purse seiners in the Pacific region and continuing to fish. We have always said that the best opportunity for us to be able to develop the fishing industry is to ensure that the people of the Cook Islands are the ones that do the fishing, the people of the Cook Islands are the ones that get involved in investment processes and the same time they are the ones that should be drawing the wealth from it. But what we have got now is a situation in which the government in almost a very lazy form of economic development sees the only opportunity is selling fishing licences, particularly purse seiner fishing licences.
DW: The industry locally, how much enthusiasm or keenness is there to invest and expand and grow and develop?
JB: There is definitely areas in which we can grow and invest and develop it, and it doesn't necessarily have to be purse seiner or long liner fisheries. We have already managed to do some cost exercises where tourism and charter fishing boats and the money that is derived from local fishermen catching fish and selling it to local restaurants and hotels is far more productive and far more productive and far more rewarding than it is to sell fishing licences or even to be involved in that sort of heavy, industrialised type of fishing.
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