This week 2 Cook Islands eco-warriors received international recognition for their dedication and tireless efforts to conserve our natural resources. Ian Karika has been awarded the inaugural Pacific Islands Environmental Leadership Award for excellence in national leadership in environmental sustainability and conservation. Ian is president of Te Ipukarea Society and the Cook Islands Voyaging Society, … Continue reading
A number of people have asked why Te Ipukarea Society (TIS) is not pushing for a complete ban on purse seining. Although like many others in the Cook Islands, our gut feeling is that a ban on purse seining is best, we believe our stance should be supported by science and facts. The science and facts do not justify a blanket ban on the fishing method.
Scientific evidence indicates that purse seining in our region, targeting the abundant free swimming schools of skipjack, is sustainable, given the current stock abundance of skipjack tuna. However, in order to catch more fish in a shorter time, most, if not all purse seiners, use large numbers of Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs) fitted with radio beacons, to aggregate large schools of fish, and then set their nets around these schools.
In our part of the Pacific Ocean, along with the skipjack tuna, these drifting FADs also attract a large number of juvenile bigeye tuna. The scientists have warned the fishery managers that bigeye tuna stocks are suffering from overfishing, and catches have to be reduced by about 40% if the species is to be saved from commercial extinction.
According to reports, bigeye tuna in the eastern Pacific make up 28% of the total catch of purse seine fishing around drifting FADs. However when purse seining on free schools of fish, without the use of FADs, bigeye tuna makes up only 1% of the catch.
Local fishermen should also note that when TIS asks for a ban on FADs, this is referring to the drifting FADs used by purse seiners. The FADs that MMR have anchored around our islands are a different issue, and TIS has no problem with these, as they help local fishermen increase their catch and reduce their costs.
Rather than just following the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) rules and limiting the use of FADs for several months, the Cook Islands should make it a condition of licencing the purse seiners that they are not allowed to use fish aggregation devices (FADs) at all. We also need to put in place adequate observer coverage and enforcement mechanisms to ensure the fishing boat operators follow the rules, and the costs of monitoring needs to be paid for by the fishing boat owners.
TIS believes that if the above steps were put in place, it would be most unlikely that the Spanish will ask for their purse seiners to fish here.
Courtesy Radio NZ: The tuna industry in the Pacific is not meeting its target to reduce catches, and leaders say there must be an agreement this year on new quotas. The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission is concerned about the lack of consensus, as more boats prepare to enter Pacific waters. In the lead-up … Continue reading
Te Ipukarea Society (TIS) is concerned that some government agencies are not following proper processes for public consultation.
The Minister of Marine Resources and Prime Minister, Hon Henry Puna, has assured the public there will be wide consultation on the European Union (EU) purse seine fishing proposal.
However, the environment NGO TIS is expressing their concern after the Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) announced their first public consultation on the EU fishing deal the day of the meeting saying it was to take place at the Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) Avatiu office last night. Only it didn’t take place there!
Not only did they advise of the meeting, meeting time and venue in the paper on the day of the meeting (yesterday), but mid-way through the day, they changed the venue!
“And even though I personally phoned MMR yesterday morning to check on the details of the meeting, before arranging for radio advertisements at no cost to MMR promoting the meeting, no one had the courtesy to phone me back and tell me of the change in venue” Director of Te Ipukarea Society, Kelvin Passfield says.
“For the public to have an opportunity to have their say, it’s important that government agencies follow proper processes for public consultation, including providing adequate notice and regular advertisements,” Passfield added.
Passfield says the date, time and venue of public consultation meetings should be provided at least a week in advance.
“Announcing the public consultation on the EU fishing deal the day of the event and holding it at a poorly known location is totally unacceptable, and I doubt this is the format the PM expected when he stated there would be wide public consultation” says Passfield.
In addition, a recent meeting to discuss seabed minerals held Thursday 3rd October at the Sinai Hall was also announced only on the day of the meeting.
“Few people attended. I was told that if the people that came for the SOPAC conference weren’t there, nobody would have been present. If government agencies are genuine in their desire to consult the public, then they should have the decency to provide adequate notice so that “we”, the public, can contribute in a timely manner”, concluded Passfield.
The first stage of negotiations involving a suggested Sustainable Fishing Partnership Agreement (SFPA) between the Cook Islands and the European Union has been held on the Island of Raratonga. The EU hopes to obtain tuna fishing rights for 4 tuna purse seiners. Currently within the WCPO EU seiners are only allowed to fish tuna in … Continue reading