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The Marine Resources (Large Pelagic Longline Fishery and Quota management System) Regulations 2016 were passed into law on 6 December 2016 (QMS Regulations). These regulations have declared Albacore and Bigeye Tuna stocks to be subject to a quota management system (QMS). The QMS was activated on 1 January 2017. Any commercial longline operator intending to fish in the Cook Islands EEZ on or after 1 January 2017 must purchase a minimum holding of quota mix indicated in the Large Pelagic Longline Fishery Plan (2016), under Schedule Four of the QMS Regulations.
Minimum holdings are 25mt of Albacore and 20mt of Bigeye. The purchase of quota is valid for one single calendar year and both species are priced at $250NZD per mt. Applications for Licenses will still be made in accordance with the Marine Licencing Regulations (2012) on the standard application form, but the application package must now include an Application for Quota form.

National Plans of Action

The Cook Islands has adopted four National Plans of Actions under the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Clink on the links below to download the NPOAs.

To promote long-term conservation and sustainable use of fisheries resources and to strengthen the international legal framework for more effective conservation, management and sustainable exploitation and production of living aquatic resources, the 1995 Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations adopted the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. The Code serves as a reference framework fornational and international efforts, including in the formulation of policies and other legal and institutional frameworks and instruments, to ensure sustainable fishing and production of aquatic living resources in harmony with the environment. It is voluntary and is to be interpreted and applied in conformity with international law, the provisions of which form an integral part of the Code.

1. Cook Islands Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, 2006

The Plan was developed in accordance with the International Plan of Action to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing adopted in 2001 by the FAO. The NPOA-IUU serves as a comprehensive “toolbox” of measures to address IUU fishing in a range of contexts. It contains general measures targeted at all States, as well as measures targeted specifically at flag States, coastal States and port States. It also contains market-related measures, measures to support the special requirements of developing countries in their achievement of the objective of the IPOA-IUU, and measures to be taken by States through RFMOs.

2. Cook Islands National Plan of Action for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds (NPOA-Seabirds), 2007-2008

Global concern about the impact of longline fishing on seabirds was reflected in the adoption by the FAO of the International Plan of Action for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries (IPOA-Seabirds). The Cook Islands NPOA-Seabirds is not limited only to longline fisheries but covers all fisheries in which Cook Islands is involved, including flag vessels involved in longline, trawl and troll operations in the Pacific and Indian oceans and plans to fish for krill in Antarctica.

3. Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources Action Plan for Sea Turtle Mitigation, 2008

The objective of the Plan is to reduce the impacts of fishing for highly migratory fish species by fishing vessels operating in the Cook Islands offshore tuna fishery. This Plan is targeted primarily at vessels operating within fishery waters and on high seas areas of the WCPFC region. Those flag vessels operating in the EEZ of other Pacific Island States will be subject to terms and conditions applied by the relevant licensing State. The Plan was developed to support the Regional Action Plan for Sea Turtle Mitigation implemented by FFA member countries on 1 July, 2008.

4. National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks in the Cook Islands (NPOA-Sharks), 2012

The Plan is seeking and promoting a rational approach, based on scientific evidence and application of the precautionary principle, to the conservation and management of shark resources in order to maintain stocks at sustainable levels and protect the biological diversity of the marine environment.

5. National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Cetaceans in the Cook Islands (NPOA-Cetaceans), 2017

The Ministry will develop a NPOA for Cetaceans in 2017, to enable the Ministry alongside other Government agencies like the National Environment Service to administer the Cook Islands Whale Sanctuary.