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Locals pursuing alleged poachers of Giant Trevally

Friday September 19, 2014 Written by Published in Local
Whale researcher Nan Hauser wants to see legal action taken after the catching of “pet” Giant Trevally in Avatiu Harbour. 14091816 Whale researcher Nan Hauser wants to see legal action taken after the catching of “pet” Giant Trevally in Avatiu Harbour. 14091816

World-renowned whale researcher Nan Hauser said she wants to see charges laid on crewmembers of a foreign fishing vessel who allegedly caught a number of Giant Trevally in Avatiu Harbour recently.

Late last week, several members of the public brought forth allegations that crew from two Chinese-flagged fishing vessels had caught up to six giant creatures, drawing outrage from a number of members of the community, including Hauser.
Yesterday, Junior Ioapa from Marlin Queen Fishing Charters said he saw the crewmembers land one of the fish last week.
After hearing a commotion coming from the international area of the port, Ioapa said he observed crewmembers from one of the boats gaffe a Giant Trevally as they attempted to pull it up onto the wharf.
He said he yelled at them, urging them to stop, but they continued to attempt to land the fish.
“They went and got a second gaffe and pulled it up near the containers,” he said.
Ioapa said he started feeding the fish years ago with a former Marlin Queen crewmember.
Many regard the fish as an attraction for tourists and locals, who gather at the harbour to feed off scraps handed down to them by fisherman as they fillet their catches.
Hauser and a number of local fisherman believe the catching of fish by the crewmembers violates conditions of their fishing licenses, which prohibit all fishing within a specific range around Rarotonga.
It is also alleged the fishermen caught a giant moray eel from Avatiu Harbour.
The Ministry of Marine Resources launched an investigation of the alleged incident, and claims no evidence of the fishing has surfaced.
Additional questions concerning the latest developments have been forwarded to MMR, but no response was received as of press deadline yesterday.
Hauser said she will be assembling a group to question the crewmembers. Included in the group will be a member of her research team from Taiwan, who will help overcome any language barriers, she said.
As a result of the alleged catching and eating of the fish, Hauser is claiming a number of individuals have now become ill with ciguatera poisoning. 
While not commenting on specific cases, Dr. Henry Tikaka with the Ministry of Health said there has been a spike in cases of fish poisoning this month.
As of Monday, 15 cases of ciguatera have been reported to public health officials – a sharp rise from two cases in August and three in July.
 “Be careful with what you eat,” urged Tikaka.