15 Aug 2003

Officials in the Cook Islands threaten prosecution over oil spill

10:55 am on 15 August 2003

Environment officials in the Cook Islands say they will push for prosecution of a fishing boat which leaked hundreds of litres of diesel into the country's main harbour.

Owners of the boat the Tasman Explorer, face fines of up to 117 thousand US dollars if convicted in what would be a rare court case.

In December 2002, Environment Services director Vaitoti Tupa told a tourism forum the service had only won convictions in the last ten years.

Last night Mr Tupa said that the country's fishing industry was taking off but owners need to be more careful.

Mr Tupa says his recommendation to the country's Environment Council will be for prosecution to take place as there have been plenty of warnings given over the years.

He says as well as environment concerns, boat owners should remember that children still swim in Avatia harbour.