Discussions were held in a positive, open and constructive atmosphere. Progress was achieved in the production of a draft text for both a SFPA and a Fisheries Protocol. The draft text, as agreed during this round of negotiations, will be now tabled to the Cook Islands Cabinet of Ministers, for its final consideration. A Cook Islands Delegation will travel to Brussels during the second week of September 2013 to continue the discussions, and if mutually agreed to initial the Agreement and its Protocol.
An agreement with the Cook Islands will allow the EU to expand its network of tuna agreements in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, the most important world tuna fishing grounds, where 50% of the global tuna catch is taken. In exchange, Cook Islands will receive a financial contribution for granting access to the four EU purse seiners operating in this area
In addition to the financial contribution for the access to its waters, an additional specific amount will be granted to support the implementation of Cook Islands sectoral fisheries policy and maritime policy.
The agreement is also of great importance to consolidate the EU and the Cook Islands relations not only in bilateral terms, but also in the regional view, especially in the context of fisheries.
Furthermore, the conclusion of a Fisheries Agreement would be an opportunity to initiate a dialogue on fisheries governance, encourage sustainable and responsible fishing. It will also reinforce cooperation between the two parties, especially in their fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU). The Agreement gives special consideration to the control of fishing activities and catch reporting within the Cook Island fishery waters, which could be further improved with the future use of Electronic Reporting System (ERS), in addition to the Vessels Monitoring System (VMS). This will greatly enhance the reliability in the reporting of catches and the provision of accurate scientific data to be used in the development of stock evaluations.