Cooks discuss extention of fishing buffer zones

<p>The Cook Islands news&nbsp;reports the Ministry of Marine Resources believes a 24 nautical mile buffer zone for all commercial fishing vessels is the most beneficial option and will ensure long term sustainability of local fishing.</p>

<p>The MMR's Tim Costelloe briefed cabinet on the effectiveness of buffer zones to be considered under the new Marae Moana Bill.</p>

<p>Currently, purse seiners are not permitted to fish within 24nms of any island, while the buffer zone for longliners is 12 nm for all islands except Rarotonga, which has a 24nm zone.</p>

<p>The ministry has concerns over the lack of benefits around a proposal to extend buffer zones from 24nm to 50nm around all islands.</p>

<p>Mr Costelloe said they believe a larger buffer will create signficant congestion within areas allowed to be fished and create dangerous situations for fishermen and observers at sea.</p>

<p>He said much of the fishing may move to the high seas adjacent to Cook Island waters, which will be more difficult to monitor and produce no economic benefit.</p>

<p>Mr Costelloe said a 24nm buffer zone will provide conservation benefits, and is consistent with action taken by other countries.</p>

<p><em>Photo:&nbsp;RNZI / Mary Baines (The Cook Islands marine patrol vessel, Te Kukupa)&nbsp;</em></p>