The fishing carrier vessel Ping Tai Rong Leng 1 is in Rarotonga for pre-fishing inspections carried out by the ministry, Maru said.
The routine inspections are a standard feature in licensing conditions used to regulate access to Cook Islands waters. It include verifying all vessel documentation, inspecting fishing gear, safety equipment and certification, fishing authorisations and ensuring compliance with other national, regional and international obligations.
Perplexed Rarotonga residents took to social media over the weekend speculating about the vessel’s presence here with one commenting “we are under attack”.
But Maru said the ministry staff had already inspected the vessel and it has met the desired standard. The crew onboard Ping Tai Rong Leng 1 were fully cooperative.
The vessel was also doing the transhipment of catch from licensed vessels off the coast of Rarotonga, and fisheries officers as well as an official from the Pacific Observers Programme were onboard the carrier ship 24/7 to monitor this process.
The longline fishing vessels offloading their catch to the carrier ship are licensed to fish in Cook Islands waters. Their catch in the Cook Islands EEZ is limited under the Cook Islands Longline Quota Management System for albacore and bigeye tuna.
“The vessel is fully complying with the regional requirement and will be here for a week,” Maru said.
The Ministry of Marine Resources officers are also working to implement electronic reporting on the vessel. This will enable vessel masters to record their daily fishing activities and catches on electronic devices, capable of reporting directly in to the ministry’s databases.
The app was designed to replace the need for skippers to complete paper based fishing logsheets, improve timely submission of catch data and facilitate improved analytical capabilities, as the ministry continues to develop its integrated fisheries information management systems.