26 Nov 2004

Cooks investigate US tuna vessel for alleged illegal fishing

11:32 am on 26 November 2004

The Cook Islands police patrol boat is escorting a US tuna vessel to Rarotonga after spotting it fishing illegally in Cooks waters.

The vessel has been identified as a tuna longliner based in American Samoa and was found fishing without a licence about 150 kilometres northeaat of Suwarrow.

The ship was first spotted by the New Zealand air force during a patrol of the Cook Islands Exclusive Economic Zone.

Investigations will continue once the boat is in Rarotonga.

Under Cook Islands law, the owner of a vessel caught fishing illegally can be fined up to 350,000 US dollars.

Two years ago, a Taiwanese vessel was caught near Rakahanga and its owner fined.