Anti-Purse Seine Campaign Not Over In Cook Islands

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Organizers launch plan to make the message stick

By Sarah Wilson

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, May 21, 2015) – The fight against purse seine fishing is far from over, with campaign organisers launching a new plan to get their message stuck in people’s heads, and on their cars.

To keep the anti-purse seine movement pushing forward, campaigners are printing a variety of bumper stickers for cars and bikes, all promoting the cause.

Te Ipukarea Society technical director, Kelvin Passfield says the stickers feature slogans which were inspired by the many original, and sometimes humorous, placards, banners and t-shirts seen at the protest march three weeks ago.

"The WTF (Where’s The Fish) sticker, based on the placard by Captain Moko, is already proving extremely popular", Passfeild says.

The stickers are selling at cost at $2 for large and $1 for small, at Bite Time Cafe Punanga Nui Market, Mooring Cafe at Avana, and Te Ipukarea Society office on the beach side of the main road in Tupapa.

This new initiative comes as the petitions to ban purse seining roll in from the outer islands.

Passfield says the outer islands petitions bear the signatures of between 80 and 100 per cent of the adult population.

"In Rarotonga, approximately 2000 signatures have been collected so far."

Organisers would like to thank Edna Torea Allan for preparing the artwork, and Hori Signs for fast-tracking the printing.

Purse seine fishing is a fishing technique that uses a huge net to capture large schools of fish, particularly tuna.

Purse seining involves the use of a smaller powerful vessel that pulls a massive net off the back of a much larger fishing vessel, and circles it around the school of tuna.

Other small speedboats work to scare the fish and keep them within the encircling net.

A purse seiner can catch up to 400 tonnes of fish in a single set of the net, but in the Cook Islands the average catch is 50 tonnes per set.

Last month, Passfield told CI News that the launch of the campaign was sparked by the Ministry of Marine Resources’ refusal to consider a ban on the use of fish aggregation devices (FADs) by purse seiners.

"These FADS attract too much by catch, in particular juvenile bigeye tuna and scientists tell us that bigeye tuna are overfished, and we need to reduce the catch by 50 per cent from current levels," Passfield said.

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