Tuna stock claims need some context

Monday May 21, 2018 Written by Published in Opinion

On the front page of the CINews on May 15 there was an article by Alfred Cook, manager of World Wide Fund for Nature’s Western and Central Pacific. 


He stated that the state of tuna stock in the Pacific is “actually quite good”. He then went on to say that the resources are robust and we have a good chance of getting management right so that we do not end up like other places where stock has collapsed.

He praised FFA for its work in our region. The PM in his article also said that all four tuna species are being managed properly.  This is not what the Pacific Community (SPC) says, which is that big eye is in trouble and yellow fin is getting into trouble. SPC has the science, not the Forum Fisheries Agency, not Mr Cook and not the PM.

Brown referred to Cook’s article on television and radio to support this government’s decision to sell our fish to foreigners. I would like to put into context the article by Mr Cook.

The FFA is a regional body and relies on funding by foreign countries. In 2016 it received more than $10 million from foreign donors.

The EU is one of these donors and it would be ridiculous to think this sort of money is given by someone on the other side of the world without the EU getting something in return.

This is why the negotiations to allow the Spanish purse seine boats into Cook Islands waters were conducted by the EU.

Any statements by the FFA therefore, have to be looked at carefully.

It is important to understand the FFA has not carried out any surveys of the skipjack stocks in our waters, either before or after the Spanish boats started purse seining.

The FFA cannot tell us, therefore, if our skipjack resource is being plundered for short term gain, or is being properly managed. The SPC is the scientific body for fishing in the South Pacific and they have been very clear in their warnings about the dangers of purse seining.

Successive governments over the last 50 years have resisted plundering this resource because of concern at the damage it might do and the effect it might have on our people. 

This CIP government has decided to take the money and not to worry about the future.

The phasing out of purse seine fishing should not be a surprise to anyone.

I don’t think anyone believes the volumes being taken at the moment by the Spanish boats, will continue.

Once the resource is destroyed, purse seining will stop, irrespective of government policy, so it is inevitable.


- Tina Browne, Leader of the Democratic Party

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