8 Dec 2006

Suspected pirate fishing boat apprehended in Cook Islands waters

12:49 pm on 8 December 2006

A suspected pirate fishing boat has been apprehended in northern Cook Islands waters.

The boat which is registered in Pago Pago and has a Korean captain on board, is being escorted back to Rarotonga.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion was enlisted to get aerial photos of the ship which was fishing about 10 miles inside the Cook Islands exclusive economic zone.

The Ministry of Marine resources say it has no record of issuing a license permitting the vessel to fish there.

The maritime surveillance adviser to the Cook Islands, Lieutenant Commander Richard Stevenson, says this could be the first time that the country's fisheries legislation will be applied.

"They have a very, very robust fisheries legislation, in fact, it's only very recent and this is the first time anyone will be prosecuted under it. If found guilty, there is mandatory forfeiture of the boat or catch, so we're talking big money there and minimum fines of five hundred thousand dollars."

Lieutenant Commander Richard Stevenson.