6 Jan 2006

New technology earmarked for joint fishing venture in Cook Islands

10:14 am on 6 January 2006

The owners of the company Gotfish in the Cook Islands have bought exclusive rights to new technology in order to set up a fish farm in the southern island of Aitutaki.

Goftfish's governing director says over the past 20 years fish farming around the world has caused huge environmental damage but the advantage of the Semi Intensive Floating Tank system, is that water in the tanks doesn't mix with lagoon water.

Navy Epati says the new venture - which could cost up to around US$688,000 - is still in its early stages.

"We are now working towards a presentation to cabinet next week, and then we'll conduct more consultations with the Aitutaki island council and mayor, and then get all the appropriate environmental and infrastructural permissions sorted. We hope to have this farm in the water and operational by June."

Mr Epati says they haven't decided which fish species will be grown in the farm, but they'r currently researching parrot fish, and groper.

He says there's been concern for sometime about the future of free moving fish stocks.

The Tuna Commission, for example, last month, voiced some concerns that at the rate that we are catching the natural species we will not be able to sustain it. So fish farming obviously is the way into the future, and not only will it continue to provide a reliable source of protein from fish but it will also relieve a lot of pressure on the natural fisheries.