15 Jun 2016

Committee to look into purse seining in Cooks

8:18 am on 15 June 2016

The Cook Islands prime minister Henry Puna has recommended a special parliamentary committee be set up to look into the grievances raised by petitioners who are against purse seine fishing.

A motion to form a select committee was put to parliament last week.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna and Finance Minister Mark Brown

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna and Finance Minister Mark Brown Photo: Phillipa Webb / Cook Islands News

Mr Puna told parliament purse seining is an important issue raised by the people and needed to be dealt with accordingly.

He recommended the formation of a select committee comprising four members each from the government and the opposition.

He said discussions in parliament about purse seining should be suspended until the proposed committee returns with its findings.

Mr Puna said the committee should submit a report to parliament by August.

Minister hits out at Opposition for 'scaremongering'

Finance Minister Mark Brown lambasted the opposition for what he called disgraceful scaremongering on important issues like fisheries.

There have been protests in the country against a purse seining deal with the European Union.

A protest against purse seine fishing in Rarotonga, Cook Islands in April 2015

A protest against purse seine fishing in Rarotonga, Cook Islands in April 2015 Photo: Phillipa Webb / Cook Islands News

Mr Brown told parliament the implementation of the Fishing Vessel Day scheme had resulted in Pacific countries, including the Cook Islands, being able to earn a fairer share of the value of fish.

Mr Brown said revenue from fisheries had increased from $2m to $12m because of the scheme.

He said the monitoring and surveillance work done is sophisticated, including satellite surveillance and multi-country monitoring exercises.

Mr Brown also said the fines and sanctions against companies which transgress the laws were harsh and justified.

He said he hoped a parliamentary select committee would help ease people's fears.