5 Sep 2003

Cooks Marine authorities follow up alleged whale shooting

9:48 am on 5 September 2003

The Secreatary of the Cook Islands Marine Resources Ministry says investigations surrounding the longline fishing industry are taking up too much of the ministry's time.

Navy Epati was responding to a newspaper article in which a fishing skipper accused of allegedly shooting a whale said the tale had grown from an incident involving the shark.

The report was taken seriously by government and prompted an investigation involving police and staff from the Ministry of Marine Resources.

Mr Epati says he hopes it doesn't turn out to be a malicious attempt to embarrass the Prime Minister who recently received an award for his efforts to establish a whale sanctuary in the Cooks' territorial waters.

Mr Epati says if it did turn out to be a deliberate rumour, police and his ministry would try to identify who had started it.