HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 579: 31 August 2011

Our tuna for ourselves
Minister Bishop promotes potential of Tuna production for export & local consumption

Minister of Marine Resources, Hon. Teina Bishop today promoted the potential of producing a range of high quality Cook Island tuna products caught and eaten locally and exported overseas.
His promotion follows a visit to Papua New Guinea and American Samoa – both nations able to take local catch and provide a range of tinned tuna products that are Cook Islands branded and sold to overseas markets including the 50,000 Cook Islands people living in New Zealand and to European Union community countries as well.
Minister Bishop said currently the Cook Islands only receive revenue from fishing licenses, “and it’s time our fish became our own food and our own export, rather than being sent overseas for other markets to produce and consume.”
“Papua New Guinea and Pago Pago in American Samoa produced a range of tinned flaky and sandwich flavoured tuna in both oil and brine that are packaged packaged to appeal to a broad range of consumer tastes.”
He said both countries had responded favourably to the proposition of processing Cook Islands tuna.
Minister Bishop said the Cook Islands relied heavily on tourism for its economic development, however that sector was vulnerable to the vagaries of climate. “We have 2.4 million square kilometers of ocean to fish in, which makes tuna production an attractive proposition in terms of growing our economy and expanding our economic base.”
He said more emphasis would be placed on encouraging Taiwanese and Chinese companies to offload their catches in Rarotonga and to utilise air transport indemnified by the Government to Los Angeles and Australia to reach export markets.
“In terms of processing tuna on the Island, we don’t have the water, competitive workforce or power to run a production outlet. Waste from a factory would also be another concern.”
Minister Bishop said as well as export and local consumption, tuna had many health-related and nutritional benefits too including being high in Omega and protein and lower in fats than other tinned products like corned beef. “These are opportunities I intend to pursue to benefit our people.”
Following a recent successful trip to China, Minister Bishop was confident that the granting of Exploratory licenses to the China National Fishing Association was a positive step forward to opening doors in considering other avenues for economic development in the spirit of co-operation and partnership between our the two countries.
“We are currently scoping out possibilities with regards to fuel supply, power generation capability especially in the northern group islands, tourism, trade, education and pearl marketing.”
He said ongoing dialogue about fishing production in the Cook Islands would occur with counterpart Ministers from other countries and representatives from the People’s Republic of China and the European Union attending the Pacific Leaders Forum in New Zealand next week as a follow up to the Fisheries and Trade Ministers Dialogue Outcomes Meeting held in PNG last month.
Minister of Marine Media Release

Herald Issue 554 09 March
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- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
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- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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