HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 584: 05 October 2011

Where are the fish?
In his keynote address at the opening of the international workshop on Climate and Oceanic Fisheries at the Edgewater Resort & Spa on Monday, DPM Hon Tom Marsters told delegates the absence of fish was a sad and disturbing reality, a local disaster.

Kia orana,
TO- • Dr Jim Salinger
Task Team Leader, and your colleagues
• Dr Johann Bell
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)
• Dr David Brown Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
• And to our invited guests and participants….
It is my great honour and pleasure, as the Minister of Transport, to welcome you and to deliver this short Keynote Opening address at the start of your important workshop today.
Our topic of “CLIMATE AND FISHERIES” is of great importance to many nations of the world. And as I look around this room, I see that there is a vast range and depth of specialist knowledge and expertise from overseas. Thank you for coming to the Cook Islands and adding your intelligence, energy and effort to the serious task of this workshop.
I am also encouraged to see, present here today, some of our own valued experts and individuals in this sector. I know them well. And they know me. So when I say - we are interested in how the weather relates to what fish we catch and eat- then they know I mean it. Like a lot of us islanders, I too love to eat fish.
But your task at this workshop involves more than just a plate of delicious food.
We are talking about ensuring the sustainability of our national and global fisheries, even despite the current dramatic climactic conditions which the world is experiencing. We also need to sustain our fisheries for the survival of our important national fishing industries and the related economic, social and cultural benefits that they provide to our way of life.
For many people, fishing means survival- survival of themselves, and their families.
Last week in our local paper, one local expert fisherman recounted that in the past we could fish by trawling for migratory tuna and wahoo regularly “like clockwork”, according to the season.
But no-one knows now when that season is, as things have changed so much. Old fishermen’s knowledge of when to catch and how, is no longer applicable. They don’t know why?
I have no doubt that you scientists and specialists in this room know more than most why we are seeing these effects. It is not a casual claim to make that the people of the world desperately need to know what you think as to why this change is happening.
Some of you will say that Climate Change has lead to higher sea temperatures, which in turn may lead to changes in fish stock movement, phytoplankton growth and global changes in wind and ocean circulation patterns. The distribution and availability of nutrients for local migratory and non-migratory fish stocks are dependent on these patterns. This is all possible.
But the sad and disturbing reality is that, in this very day, the successful, cultural fishing practices of my father and his father’s before him, no longer result in cooked fish for our tables, like it did in the past.
Why is this? …..
To me this is a local disaster.
But mark my words, the little Cook Islands fisherman’s problems are a problem for all of us, here and overseas. The world’s problems are on his doorstep. He is feeling the effects when he comes home from fishing empty handed. He did not create or cause these changes himself. But he is suffering from it. He is told he must “adapt”.
But my recommendation to you is that, if we solve HIS little fish problem, then maybe, just maybe, we can solve the bigger Climate Change issues which are of greater international importance.
Now with my, can I say, non-experts provocative hypothesis still ringing in your ears, can I humbly lay down this challenge to you all here…
By the end of your workshop, enjoy yourself, eat some fish for lunch or dinner, but I want you to answer me.
Why is the little Cook Islands fisherman catching less fish for his table?
And then answer me WHAT?
What can we ALL do to improve the sustainability of the precious fish resources in our own waters and in the marine environment of our fragile globe, on which we all must continue to live.
I wish you well as you take up my challenge this week…
It is my pleasure to now declare this workshop open.
Kia orana e kia manuia

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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