KIWI LONGLINERS WORRY NIUE FISHERMEN

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ALOFI, Niue (Niue News, Jan. 2) – A group of Niue fishermen have expressed concern that the Niue government has not officially recognized the need for a long-line fisheries management plan.

They also say too many concessions are being granted to New Zealand registered boats working for the Niue Fish Processors joint venture factory at Alofi.

"Government has caved in to demands from foreign fishing interests and Niueans will pay the ultimate price after the area has been worked over," said one fisherman today.

Niue resident fishermen said zone restrictions for six licenses issued to New Zealand long-liners have not been announced by the government; they said it is imperative for future local development of the industry that foreign boats work outside the 30 mile zone.

The local fishermen say they are entitled to know the conditions of licenses for foreign boats.

Opposition Member of Parliament Terry Coe, who is backing local fishermen in their bid to get the government adopt a sustainable fisheries management plan, told Niue News that licensed foreign vessels, regardless of length, should be kept outside the 30 mile zone.

"Inside the 30 mile zone should be reserved for local fishermen using limited numbers of smaller craft [under 15 meters]… in that way resident stocks will not be devastated and the money from catches remains on Niue," he said.

Coe also agreed with local fishermen that two sea mounts - Endeavour and Lachlan - within 12 to 30 nautical miles east of the island should be fished only by local boats.

"Larger long-liners can put out 30 -50 miles of hooks right across those mounts and will fish out resident stocks very quickly," he said.

Coe added that if these areas are allowed to be fished by foreign boats then the opportunity for the sustainability of local development for long-line fishing will quickly become un-viable."

Niue fishermen point to Samoa as an example of over-fishing close inshore which eventually deprived locals using twin hulled Alias from making a living. They were forced to fish further out and a large number of fishermen lost their lives. Now most of the fish stocks in the area are worked-out, said a local fisherman.

Niue’s waters inside the 30 mile zone is about four percent of the country’s 377,00-square-kilometres Exclusive Economic Zone.

Coe said 96 percent of the EEZ is a large enough area for big long liners to operate. He said there are also other sea mounts and trenches outside the 30 mile area that could be worked in a managed way. There are also corridors into international waters south of Niue.

Coe was concerned that the Minister of Fisheries Bill Vakaafi Motufoou seemed to have shelved a local industry report that outlines sustainability, management, safety and local development put together by local key stakeholders in the industry. He said it was a sure indication the Minister had buckled to pressure from fishing companies.

"That report which was professionally prepared and contained an input from all groups involved with fishing on Niue has never been presented to Cabinet," said Coe.

At a recent meeting of the Tuna Commission the importance of local input into development in long-line fishing to maximize economic benefits to the host country was emphasized.

Early in December Kim Gordon, the general manager of Reef Group, which has established a fish processing plant on the island, said four licenses had been issued to New Zealand boats and six more boats from New Zealand are also applying for licenses to fish in Niue waters.

She said the license spells out how close to the shore boats can fish, and that a Niuean must be trained as part of the crew.

Ms Gordon said if all ten licenses are approved, it will inject millions of dollars into the Niue economy.

"I’m very excited." Ms Gordon said. "The people who are coming on board are very committed to the long term future of Niue as well, and for them, they’re committed to making this a sustainable fishery."

The Niue fish processing factory has remained closed since its official opening in October 2004 due to procedures for the issuing of licenses and the cyclone season.

January 3, 2005

Niue News: http://www.niuenews.nu/

 

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