HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Bishop says no conflicts of interest with the Chinese
Following Cabinet on Tuesday, Minister for Marine Resources Hon Teina Bishop met with media representatives during which he commented and answered questions on a range of issues in the public arena.
These issues included;
(1) the recent donation of US$50,000 by the Tan Foundation of China which has gone towards the purchase of computers for schools and the perception it was made in return for favours;
(2) the possible conflict of interest arising from Sam Chou’s role both as an advisor to the Minister and the owner of Luen Thai Fishing Company which is licensed to fish in our EEZ and which is looking to increase its business interests in the Cooks through its subsidiary China Southern Fishery (Shenzhen) Co Ltd ; and
(3) the relationship if any, between the fishing licenses issued and the shortage of fish reported by local fishermen.
In relation to the computers for schools, Bishop said he was informed last year a donation of cash would be made and he decided the donation should be out to buying computers for schools.
The Ministry of Education then sourced computer notebooks which were of a standard higher than those the teachers used.
With the main fishing activity being in the north, Bishop said he decided to allocate the computers mainly to primary schools in the northern group.
The allocation is as follows;
5 to Rakahanga which has 14 students.
20 to Manihiki (10 each to Tauhunu and Tukao).
20 to Pukapuka.
20 to Penrhyn.
60 to Aitutaki.
In addition to the above, 5 computers will go to the Ministry of Marine in Manihiki to enable MMR to communicate with Shanghai Ocean University.
Bishop said the whole process has been above board with no links to special favours. He said each year, the Fishing company had a policy of giving back to communities 10 per cent of what it makes.
He cited Guam which received a library.
Bishop said the fishing problem should not be linked with the donation. 44 fishing vessels are licensed to fish in our EEZ and this is below the number allowed by the legislation.
Bishop denied there was any conflict of interest in having Sam Chou as his advisor and also as head of a fishing company (Luen Thai) licensed to fish in our EEZ. He said Chou was a United States citizen who was raised in Guam and now lives in Hong Kong.
On the issue of over fishing and the relationship between licenses issued and reports of a shortage of fish, the Minister referred to the two separate fisheries and the tuna being seasonal and migratory. The majority of the licensed boats fish in the north yet recent local fishing contests in the north show there is no shortage of fish being experienced by local fishermen in the north. Any shortage in the south could be due to other factors, for example, to do with the environment.
Bishop said any increases in the number of allowable licenses would be considered following consultation with regional partners, the FFA (Forum Fishing Agency) and the WCPFC (Western and Central Pacific Fishing Council) as the resource is a regional one. He cited the case of Kiribas which recently dropped its licenses from 200 to 150. Bishop said the aim is to reduce the number of licenses and he spoke highly of the Ministry for Marine Resources approach which was very conservative.
Of the exploratory licensing scheme, Bishop said the period for Big Eye tuna would be extended one year but the swordfish period would be stopped this year. He said the reason for this was because the 5 Chinese vessels involved, were not catching swordfish but other species. They had failed to provide information in relation to swordfish.
Bishop said there was 1 purseining license available which a New Zealand company was interested in however, there needed to be consultations with the northern group first. -Charles Pitt

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

Copyright 2006 Cook Islands Herald online . All rights reserved.