19 Sep 2016

NGO says Cooks committee on fish deal was biased

6:52 am on 19 September 2016
Purse Seine fishing

Purse Seine fishing Photo: Supplied

A Cook Islands NGO says a committee process to scrutinise a proposed fishing deal with the European Union was biased.

Last week, a committee's assessment of controversial plans to allow EU purse seiners into Cook Islands waters was tabled in parliament.

The head of the marine resources ministry, Ben Ponia, said the ministry maintained its view that a ban on fish aggregating devices would have no conservation value and deny the country economic benefits.

The technical director of the Te Ipukarea Society, Kelvin Passfield, said that attitude came as no surprise.

"The community weren't really invited to present to the select committee. When we suggested that the local fishermen may want to present, the local fishermen were told that 'oh no this is really for the technical experts, not the community.' So they did the select committee from a particular angle and it was a biased process, really, from the beginning."

Kelvin Passfield said after widespread protests and a 4,000 signature petition, he hoped MPs would listen and consider all sides.

Cook Islanders march to decry the Prime Minister Henry Puna and his government's deal with the European Union on purse seine fishing.

Last year, Cook Islanders marched to decry the Prime Minister Henry Puna and his government's deal with the European Union on purse seine fishing Photo: Flo Syme Buchanan

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