4 Jan 2007

Cook Islands fines illegal fisherman

4:36 pm on 4 January 2007

The master of a pirate fishing boat which was apprehended in northern Cook Islands waters has been fined 100,000 New Zealand dollars.

The South Korean master, whose boat was found to have 18 tonnes of mainly tuna onboard, said the fish were pulling on his lines, dragging his boat into Cook Island waters.

The maritime surveillance adviser to the Cook Islands, Lieutenant Commander Richard Stevenson, said the boat, which is registered in Pago Pago, was forfeited according to the law.

But he said because it was in such poor shape, it was sold back to the owner for one dollar.

It's the third time that a boat has been found illegally fishing in Cook Island waters.

Lieutenant Commander Stevenson says procedures are working well and the whole process was completed within the month.

"Pretty successful prosecution by the Cook Islands. It was a matter of less than two weeks from initial detection to escorting the vessel back to Raratonga, prosecuting, fining and releasing the boat so it's a good result for the Cook Islands."

Lieutenant Commander Richard Stevenson