COOK ISLANDS-OWNED TUNA BUSINESS IS FISHERMAN DONOVAN’S VISION

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By Jonathan Harwood

AVARUA, Rarotonga, Cook Islands (December 13, 2001 – Cook Islands News)---Fisherman Rex Donovan has outlined his "vision" of the tuna business he hopes to set up.

Donovan says he is currently trying to sort out the logistics of going it alone but hopes to soon be able to run an exclusively Cook Islands owned and staffed longline operation.

The skipper is taking a break from working with Taio Shipping.

And he says that after 15 years in the industry and almost five fishing Cook Islands waters, he wants to use his expertise for his own benefit.

He told the CINews: "We are just looking at it at this stage. It could all blow up in my face, but it is my vision.

"I have always wanted to have my own operation and I have family members who are wanting me to go on my own.

"They want me to use my experience to my own benefit.

"At the moment we are looking at the finances. It is hard because we want to do it on our own without any overseas investors.

"We have got a very good director who has his own business and we have a very good structure in place.

"We really want it to be 100 percent owned and operated locally so that all the benefits stay in the Cook Islands.

"Even if I can’t do it myself there are plenty of people that can. They have the knowledge. It is a very viable business, but it can be high risk as well."

He said that he was hoping to staff the boat locally, although he admitted that most of the experienced crews were already working for other operators.

"If I need to I will go to the outer islands for crew," said Donovan. "I would like to get cadets and train them up."

But he admitted he would probably have to go to New Zealand for a reserve skipper.

"I would like a local who is living over there, but if I can’t do that then I will settle for a Kiwi."

Donovan is hoping to operate a 20-meter (66-foot) boat and once he gets started he wants to spend most of his time at sea.

"We will be working in the northern group fishing albacore, and we want to be out there most of the year. The company will be based at Avatiu but we only want to be in port one or two months a year," he said.

"All the fish will go to canneries or Japan, but that is because we don’t want to flood the local market. If there is a need for fish locally, then we will supply it too."

He says he is publicizing his plans now because he wants other locals to get involved with longlining. "We just want people to get involved. The industry needs to get established here. It is high risk but people should be prepared to stick their necks out," he said.

For additional reports from the Cook Islands News Online, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Cook Islands News Online.

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