23 Nov 2015

Cook Islands take to streets again over Spanish deal

5:27 pm on 23 November 2015

Cook Islanders have again taken to the streets to decry their government's deal with the European Union for Spanish purse seine boats to fish in its waters.

Cook Islanders march to decry the Prime Minister Henry Puna and his government's deal with the European Union on purse seine fishing.

Cook Islanders march to decry the Prime Minister Henry Puna and his government's deal with the European Union on purse seine fishing. Photo: Flo Syme Buchanan

The eight-year agreement has tacit approval to continue even longer.

Yesterday's march was supported by paramount chiefs, high chiefs and local fishermen.

They gave speeches to a crowd of close to 400 people.

An environmental group says people are angry that the government has not listened to its concerns.

The technical director of Te Ipukarea Society, Kelvin Passfield, says a petition to ban purse seining was signed by 4,000 people earlier this year, and there's disappointment the government has ignored this.

"One of the traditional leaders when he was speaking, Manavaroa Mataiapo, you could just see the anger in his demeanour. He was fuming at the fact that this was supposedly going to go ahead despite the fact that so, so many people are against it and the petition is sitting in parliament, not even debated."

The draft agreement allows for the netting of tuna and tuna-like species, the annual quota of 7,000 tonnes to be exceeded and six months of experimental fishing a year.

The Ministry of Marine Resources is yet to explain what the experimental fishing will include.

A young protester in the Cook Islands. The government has a draft agreement with the European Union for Spanish purse seine vessels to fish in its waters.

A young protester in the Cook Islands. The government has a draft agreement with the European Union for Spanish purse seine vessels to fish in its waters. Photo: Flo Syme Buchanan