'Stop Purse Seining Now' was the message leading protestors as they began their march from Avarua Harbour yesterday afternoon. About 100 protestors took part in the demonstration which called for a total ban on purse seine fishing in Cook Islands waters.
About 100 passionate protestors took over Rarotonga yesterday afternoon to push back against the government and call for a total ban on purse seine fishing in Cook Islands waters.
Protestors from all walks of life flocked to Avarua Harbour near Trader Jacks yesterday armed with anti-purse seine fishing t-shirts and at about 4.30pm they set off to make their voices heard.
The protestors walked through Avarua, finishing at the Punanga Nui market.
Te Ipukarea Society director Kelvin Passfield said before the protest started that about 100 colourful anti-purse seine t-shirts had been screen printed thanks to local artist Ani O’Neill.
He was also happy to see that the Public Service Commissioner had highlighted public servants rights to take part in the protest, as long as they were acting as individuals and not as government representatives.
Police officers were on hand to guide the protest through Avarua, and they reported no problems with protestors’ behaviour before CINews went to print.
Ministry of Marine Resources secretary Ben Ponia said yesterday that the ministry supported every individual’s right to express themselves.
“Our fish is our future,” said Ponia.
“We are dealing with a regional fishery and if we wish for it to be managed responsibly, our challenge is to engage with industry and other Pacific Islands and not simply disengage and demonise fishing.”
A nationwide petition against purse seine fishing in the Cook Islands’ Exclusive Economic Zone had also been in circulation around Rarotonga for a little over a week and had generated wide support from the community, said Passfield.