30 Sep 2011

Cook Islands fishers pin catch rate hopes on FADs

2:36 pm on 30 September 2011

The president of the Cook Islands Fishing Association says there's hope that flagging catch rates will increase with the deployment of new fish aggregating devices around the main island, Rarotonga.

The Ministry of Marine Resources will install the devices next week, something Mark Vaikai says will halve fuel costs and reduce the time the country's 2,000 fishers spend looking for fish.

Concern over the attraction of young fish is one of the reasons behind a seasonal ban on the use of the devices in other parts of the Pacific.

But Mr Vaikai says the fish around Rarotonga are thought to have reached maturity.

"The fishing aggregate devices have always been here in the past and they're a device that increases our operational efficiency. It's a device that attracts pelagic species including tuna in a particular area so fishermen don't have to cover a large area of ocean in order to catch fish."

Mark Vaikai says there's no doubt that longline foreign fishing vessels are having an impact on the country's fish stocks.