Purse seiners catch everything

Friday June 27, 2014 Published in Letters to the Editor
Purse seine trawlers at work Purse seine trawlers at work Greenpeace

Dear Editor, I was extremely concerned to read about the persistence of the CIP Party and its continuation and possible increase of purse seine fishing in today’s edition of CINews.

The CIP, in my opinion, should be very cautious and tread very carefully before allowing EU purse seiners to fish in the countries waters.

While I understand there are some attractive financial reasons for increasing this fishing method I also believe these large “catch all” vessels could have a detrimental and long lasting effect on the country’s valuable resource.

We first should ask ourselves: "Why are they so interested in fishing in the Cook Islands"?

The obvious answer is because the Cook Islands has a fishery that appears plentiful with valuable species of fish.

Maybe the not so obvious reason could be that they themselves have nearly exhausted, by overfishing and/or poor management, their own resource and are looking to do the same on the other side of the world.

It’s a long voyage from Spain to the Cook Islands to do your fishing.

Many of us who have experienced travel in Europe will be aware their fish markets have very little local fish and what the local fishermen are selling are extremely small specimens.

There are countries around the world whose fishery management agencies are restricting purse seine activities and in some areas placing moratoriums on purse seine fishing.

Purse seining is a “catch all” method of fishing. It is not selective and can have negative impacts on fish stocks. It involves, as well as the target species, the by catch of non-target species such as dolphins and turtles as well as smaller species and, more importantly, the juvenile fish, the breeding stock of the future.

This non-selective method therefore is particularly susceptible to harm and could put too much pressure on the Cook Islands valuable resource.

Current purse seine techniques also use attraction devices FADs. However, the use of these devices by purse seine vessels only increase the by catch of other species and juvenile fish. In some countries the use of FADs by purse seiners has been restricted or banned.

Caution is certainly warranted before any political party subjects the country’s valuable fishing resource to these “catch all” vessels.

I was very pleased to also read the Demo party are promising to phase out the “catch all” vessels.  Good on you Demos. What do the other parties say?

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