Tokelau push for heavier penalties for illegal fishing

Tokelau - an adult and children handle their catch

Tokelau – an adult and children handle their catch

APIA: WEDNESDAY 27 MARCH 2013: Tokelau wants heavier penalties for illegal fishing so that one of its “sustainable revenue sources” is not undermined, a release from Tokelau Apia Liaison Office says.

Tokelau earns much more from fishing now than three years ago. It now earns over $NZ5 million per year from fishing which is more than five times the income earned just three years ago from the industry.

This is the result of work in partnership with New Zealand to improve management of the island nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“However, the Government of Tokelau’s concerned that this successful management of its most economically valuable natural resource could be undermined by illegal fishing,” the release says.

“The protection of one of its only sustainable revenue sources is critical to the future of Tokelau.”

Work is underway with New Zealand to increase the penalties for illegal fishing in Tokelau’s EEZ.

“The current penalties were set over 35 years ago and no longer provide an effective deterrent to illegal fishing.”

“It is hoped that the new more stringent penalty regime will be in place before the end of 2013.

“To better manage the risks of illegal fishing in its EEZ, Tokelau is also working collaboratively with other Pacific Island Countries.

“Under the Niue Treaty and the TeVaka Toa arrangement Tokelau works with other Pacific Island Countries on fisheries law enforcement activities.

“Tokelau shares a state of the art satellite-based Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) with other Pacific Island Countries and works closely with NZ Defence Forces in aerial and surface surveillance activities.

“Tokelau’s vessel monitoring and surveillance activities are coordinated out of the Department of Economic Development, Natural Resources and Environments’fisheries division office on Fakaofo.”