11 Jun 2009

Fishing company hopes New Zealand PM will look favourably on defunct Niue factory

2:14 pm on 11 June 2009

The owners of Niue's defunct fish processing plant say they're hoping New Zealand's Prime Minister will decide to support restarting the operation after he visits the country early next month.

The Auckland-based company, Reef Group, closed the multi-million dollar plant about a year and a half ago, a decision the managing director attributes to fuel prices, the high dollar and trouble with whales.

John Gresson says now conditions have improved, the processing plant's future is viable again, if the New Zealand government is prepared to invest in recommissioning.

But the vice president of Niue's Chamber of Commerce, who says he's also the island's sole commercial fisherman, says other conditions, such as inadequate wharf facilities, prevail.

Avi Rubin says even if the plant is restarted it would probably be forced to close again.

"There's fish around it's not the fish that's the problem it's a problem of the logistics, it's the wharf. If you like, the island is basically like some sort of bottleneck where once you get the fish to the island and you process it here, then you need to send it out and not enough planes and then you have to charter your own plane, the problem was in and out of the island"

Avi Rubin of the Niue Chamber of Commerce.