PACIFIC FISHING ‘POCKET’ OPEN DESPITE CONCERN

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PACIFIC FISHING ‘POCKET’ OPEN DESPITE CONCERN Illegal fishing in area east of Cook Islands

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News,Dec. 26, 2009) – The high seas pocket to the east of the Cook Islands has not been closed, despite strong submissions from the Cooks at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission annual session in Tahiti recently.

"The commission did not agree to close the eastern pocket between the Cooks, Kiribati and French Polynesia," said a release from the ministry of marine resources.

Despite that, the Cooks will submit a conservation and management measure to the commission at a subcommittee meeting in June on high seas pocket closure.

"The basis for the closure will be illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing issues. The French territories and France gave strong backing for this."

Meanwhile rules on the access to sensitive high seas data were agreed upon at the Papeete meeting.

Satellite-based vessel monitoring system coverage out to a 100 km buffer zone outside the Cooks’ exclusive economic zone is now possible.

"This will greatly improve surveillance capability through satellite tracking technology, as it effectively prevents vessels from ‘sneaking into’ Cook Islands waters. These rules will also enable coverage of 95 percent of the high seas pocket adjacent to the Cook Islands EEZ and French Polynesia, which is responsible for much of the illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing which occurs in out waters."

Following a request by the Cook Islands, the commission approved inclusion of the Cook Islands EEZ in the commission VMS, which will allow the Cooks to "see" all commission vessels entering the EEZ.

Another highlight at the WCPFC meeting included the introduction of a swordfish conservation and management measure (CMM).

The measure was introduced to restrict catches and vessel numbers fishing for Swordfish. Escalating numbers of vessels particularly of EU registered vessels has given rise to a concern about overfishing

Cook Islands News: http://www.cinews.co.ck/index.htm

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