20 Jun 2012

Minor breaches found in Cooks fishing zone check

1:52 pm on 20 June 2012

A number of foreign fishing vessel operators in the Cook Islands could face minor offence charges after a number of trawlers were boarded during a major maritime surveillance exercise over the past week.

Ships from several countries had been patrolling the Cook Islands exclusive economic zone as part of the Forum Fisheries Agency's Tui Moana exercise.

A New Zealand Maritime Surveillance officer, Lieutenant Commander Tony Grubb, says the Navy's HMNZS Otago, working with Cook Islands Police, boarded eight vessels in the northern Cooks.

He says they checked the licences of vessel operators and a number of minor infringements were uncovered.

"But in the main the fishing vessels appeared to be complying with the licence conditions. Minor infringements often occur - perhaps inattention to some paperwork, but those infringements are normally dealt with by the department here in the Cook Islands - in this case the Ministry of Marine Resources - with the fishing companies concerned."