12 Nov 2015

Cooks environmentalists against Spanish purse seiners

3:32 pm on 12 November 2015

A Cook Islands environmental group says no amount of money is worth allowing foreign purse seiners to fish in Cook Islands waters and deplete bigeye tuna stocks.

The Cooks Islands Marine Resources Secretary Ben Ponia says a new US$13 million fishing deal with the European Union is the best package so far for any fishing arrangement.

Cook Islands, Ben Ponia

Cook Islands, Ben Ponia Photo: Supplied

He says the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement which allows in Spanish purse seiners will bring in nearly 12 and a half thousand US dollars for every day one of the vessels fishes in Cook Islands waters.

But the technical director for Te Ipukarea Society, Kelvin Passfield, says the Spanish purse seine fleet has the worst reputation for using fish aggregation devices, and having a large by-catch of bigeye tuna.

"The impact on the potential future livelihood of Cook Islanders and other Pacific Island countries of these foreign fishing countries taking out such a huge quantity of our fish, and not really paying a reasonable amount for it, well no money would be a reasonable amount if you're going to basically wipe out the stocks of bigeye. So no, it's not worth it at all."