HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Fishing Association Achieves 60% of Strategic Targets Over 2011

The Cook Islands Fishing Association (CIF) held its annual general meeting on Tuesday evening, and Don Beer has been elected as the new president of the association. According to the outgoing President Mark Vaikai, CIF has been working closely to an overall strategic plan for the 2011- 2014 period. Vaikai reported to the members that so far CIF had achieved 60% of what they set out to do in the plan, leaving another three years to achieve the remaining 40% of the strategic plan. Vaine Wichman has been funded by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) to act as a Support Officer for the association, and Vaikai acknowledged that Wichman has played a key role in many of the achievements made by CIF.
Vaikai summarized the work completed by CIF since February 2011, which included the drafting of the overall strategic plan. It was noted that the Prime Minister acknowledged in 2011 that CIF must be consulted in any fisheries matters that arise. Also in 2011 government developed legislation around safety gear requirements for fishing vessels. As part of that development CIF has submitted a proposal to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) for funding to equip all fishing vessels in the Cook Islands with required safety gear. The association is working to assist all member clubs in developing their own strategic plans that will tie in with the overall strategic plan and over the past year CIF has disbursed over $100,000 worth of small grants support to the member clubs. In 2011, the Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) Fisheries Development Facility grant for $80,000 was disbursed by CIF to over 95% of member clubs throughout the Cook Islands. Use of the funds by members included training and marketing, lagoon and harbour lighting, freezers for storage and shipping of fish to Rarotonga, aluminium boat repair work, stainless steel processing tables, ice machines, fishing gear and safety gear. Vaikai encouraged the new executive for 2012 to continue the work started in 2011 “with the same momentum.”
One of the topics discussed was Fishing Aggregate Device (FAD) developments. SPC is sending a technical expert to visit the Cook Islands, who will bring new designs that will hopefully mean FADs can stay in the water for longer. CIF has established a FAD committee who are looking to establish more FADs across the Cook Islands. Kori Raumea, the Director of Fisheries at MMR, commented that MMR will continue to work with CIF in a joint effort on the FAD programme for 2012-2013.
Vaikai reflected that media coverage in the Cook Islands doesn’t necessarily give a true sense of the relationship between CIF and MMR. He observed that there were still issues to “iron out” between CIF and MMR and that those issues will not be resolved “overnight”, referring mainly to the concerns of fishermen regarding the licensing and operating of foreign fishing vessels in the Cook Islands Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Vaikai added however that there must be a level of compromise between the two bodies and that overall there is a good working relationship shared between CIF and MMR. He said that ultimately both CIF and MMR were aiming for the same thing, which is to benefit the people of the Cook Islands. Vaikai remarked, “I seriously believe we are headed in the same direction.”
Other matters that arose included the proposal for a shark sanctuary in the Cook Islands, as well a paper submitted by Dr. Teina Rongo for consideration, which touched on the effects of climate change on fisheries and how the fisheries industry should best respond to that. Dr. Rongo intends to present his paper to the executive at their next meeting. An update on the Artisinal Catch Database was given by Raumea and he said that they would begin publishing a quarterly newsletter from March 30 of this year with the data collected from fishermen. Jon Hall spoke on behalf of the Aitutaki Bonefishing industry and distributed information relating to the industry and its benefits. Hall said he hoped to assist members that may be interested in developing such an industry on their own islands.
The new office bearers for the association for the 2012 period are Don Beer (President), Mark Baxter (Vice President), Willie John (Secretary), Ina Kaikura (Treasurer), Fred Tereva (Southern Group Representative), Ngatokorua Ngatokorua (Northern Group Representative), Dick Marsters (Aitutaki/Palmerston Representative), Steven Kavana and Wayne Barclay (both Rarotonga Representatives).

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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