27 Jan 2016

Escape of seafood gatherers irks Cooks opposition

10:00 am on 27 January 2016

The Cook Islands opposition says a botched investigation appears to have allowed a Chinese couple to escape prosecution for illegally harvesting seafood.

sea cucumbers harvested in Cook Islands allegedly for illegal export

sea cucumbers harvested in Cook Islands allegedly for illegal export Photo: Florence Syme-Buchanan

The couple had taken hundreds of sea cucumbers out of Tikioki lagoon which they were then drying and vacuum packing.

They said they were on holiday and the seafood, which was reportedly worth thousands of dollars, was for personal use during their stay in Rarotonga.

Opposition MP, Tama Tuavera, says the Marine Resources Ministry and Immigration allowed the couple to leave the country and escape conviction.

The MP says the pair were clearly engaged in a business activity and therefore had also breached laws under the Business Trade and Investment Act.