30 Nov 2016

Cook Islands traditional leaders to tell EU to keep out

4:17 pm on 30 November 2016

A traditional leader in the Cook Islands says they will be telling the European Union to keep out of their seas at a public meeting tonight (NZT 4.30pm).

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

Under a partnership agreement the Cook Islands will receive almost $US7 million over four years in exchange for granting access to four European purse seine fishing vessels to target skipjack tuna.

Fishing representatives from the EU and Spain will attend tonight's meeting which has been organised by the Ministry of Marine Resources.

Cook Island workers handling a yellow fin tuna that was off-loaded from a fishing ship into a shipping container in Avarua on Rarotonga.

Yellow Fin tuna in the Cook Islands. Photo: Marty Melville / AFP

William Framhein said he was expecting a good number of traditional leaders to deliver a strong message.

"The European Union be told stay in their ocean and to keep out of our moana, to leave our resources alone our kaimoana for the people of our country," he said.

Mr Framhein said the real issue was the decline of tuna in the Cook Islands.