15 Mar 2004

Sustainability of Cook Islands fishing expansion queried

4:51 pm on 15 March 2004

A former long line fisherman in the Cook Islands says the expansion of the industry in the north of the country by a New Zealand company may not be sustainable.

Teariki Matenga says he's uncertain of how many fish exist in the area.

His comments come after cabinet approved in principle a plan by an Auckland company, Guardian Capital Finance Limited of New Zealand, to base up to 17 new vessels in the island group.

Mr Matenga says he's concerned that fish supplies will be depleted.

"Seventeen more vehicles concentrated in the same area, it's pretty much the same as what's been in the southern waters. I guess it'll be a viable sort of business in the first five years, I suppose, but then what happens after that? But the question is still [to be] answered, what sort of resources do we have out there? We don't really have any proof."

Teariki Matenga says more research needs to be done on it.

He says the industry has taken a nosedive, with no fish in its waters because of the migratory patterns of the fish.