Cooks environmentalist says more needs to be done to stop unsustainable fishing
A Cook Islands environmentalist says more needs to be done to stop unsustainable fishing.
A Cook Islands environmentalist says the Prime Minister's decision to defer the signing of a purse seine fishing agreement with the European Union is just the beginning of her call to phase out the activity.
June Hosking and her husband Andrew, who live in Mauke, launched a petition in September aimed at persuading Henry Puna not to opt into the Fisheries Partnership Agreement to allow four purse seiners to fish in the country's Exclusive Economic Zone.
The Prime Minister has called for public consultation before cabinet makes its decision.
June Hosking told Beverley Tse that more needs to be done to stop unsustainable fishing methods.
JUNE HOSKING: There were seven issues on that petition to ask them not to sign the European Union agreement at all, don't even consider it, to over time phase out purse seining altogether - and I realise that's a big biggie. What I'm saying is could the Cook Islands take the brave step of going to all the other island nations and saying 'Let's just say no'. And what gets thrown in my face is 'We get so many million dollars from this. We need this'. But the fact is, what I have been told by the guys who do the calculations, is what they pay us and what they take works out to about 6 cents a kilo they're paying for their tuna, so...
BEVERLEY TSE: That's really low.
JH: (Laughs) Really low! Yeah, it is. In fact, one of the guys who approached me, he works in finance, right? His thing was 'They're throwing our fish away '. It wasn't so much about sustainability. He's just saying 'We should at least get a good price', you know? And I agree. So one of the other things I asked on the petition was to revalue the fish. Think about this - the Pacific holds 12% of the global population. We, according to what I've been reading and learning about, hold 50% of the fish stocks of the world, okay? Think about this. Why are we giving away a resource? We have a massive bargaining chip. To me, when we run out of oil and what have you, when fossil fuels are gone, there are alternative sources of energy. When we run out of fish we can't make fish. I think there should be a review of what can be taken, so the total catch. And we ask for FADs - fishing aggregate devices - they're the artificial reef things they have around... Purse seine, what they do is attract fish into one area, right, so the problem is that a FAD will attract your algae eaters, your turtles and what have you, and then other things, sharks and stuff, only come in because they're attracted to the turtles. So they're going to get all sorts.
BT: So you're basically wanting a ban on the FADs?
JH: No FADs, but FADs close to coast. So, in other words, for local fishermen, home fishing, because they're useful for us, even for safety reasons. Because some of the fishermen are going out just in a waka.
BT: So do you feel like your petition has gained some momentum?
JH: Yeah, definitely. It's really cool that Sydney is into it and they're talking to EcoNorfolk. They've also been chatting with fishing mates in Australia. 'Cause this isn't just our issue, right? New Zealand and Australia must get involved.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: