24 May 2012

New rules around FADs to manage access in Cook Islands

5:31 pm on 24 May 2012

The Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources has developed a set of rules to govern the use of fishing aggregate devices off the coast of Rarotonga to accommodate fishers who use different techniques.

The Ministry's secretary Ben Ponia, says developing the rules were at the request of fishermen themselves because there had been a lot of congestion, and new techniques taking place by users around the FADs.

FADs are devices that attract pelagic species including tuna in a particular area so fishermen don't have to cover a large area of ocean.

Mr Ponia says the rules include limiting boats that may be tied to a FAD to four, and disallowing harpooning within the two kilometres of the FAD.

"The point of the FAD rules is largely about getting access to the FAD, what we say is fair access and equitable access. We don't want one particular technique having a preference over another."

Ben Ponia admits that some fishermen, particularly harpooners believe the rules favour charter operators but says there could be more tweaking of the rules once they've been tested.