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Support for purse seiners

Agency monitors bigeye stocks

THE Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) is highly supportive of the Cook Islands endeavours to increase its participation in the tropical purse seine fishery, according to Deputy Director-General Wez Norris. “We generally set a fairly high standard when we consider development proposals in terms of assessing those proposals against international legal obligations, sustainability qualifications, the capacity and institutional set up of the management agency and the nature of benefits that are likely to flow to the country,” he said.

“Forgoing a purse seine fishery would not contribute significantly to the conservation of bigeye tuna, and in fact Cook Islands best prospects to influence the development of measures to create a sustainable bigeye stock is probably to do so as a participant to the fishery.” Norris highlighted the FFA’s position when consulted by the Purse Seine Special Select Committee via Skype. The committee’s report of 30 August was tabled in the Cook Islands Parliament last month.

The FFA submission said the Cooks stood to benefit greatly from its purse seine fishery, primarily though enhanced government revenues.

The FFA is an intergovernmental agency with around 100 staff whose role is to strengthen national capacity and regional solidarity so its 17 members can manage, control and develop their tuna fisheries.

“FFA was formed in 1979 and that’s quite significant because it’s when the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea was being finalised and that UN Convention is what establishes the concept of the economic zone and so the Pacific Island Forum leaders at the time recognised that with the concept of the EEZ came huge opportunities but also huge responsibilities and so they wanted to form a specialized fisheries agency.”

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