The MARAE Moana Task Force has finished gathering comments on the draft Marae Moana Bill and has submitted them to Crown Law.
The bill was drafted based on the recommendations of a legal analysis, feedback from community meetings around the country and input from representatives of agencies and organisations. It was circulated for comment amongst government agencies, non-government organisations and the aronga mana and aims “to protect and conserve the ecological, biodiversity, and heritage values of the Cook Islands marine environment” while allowing sustainable use.
The Marae Moana Bill establishes a framework for participatory and integrated decision-making and marine spatial planning. The bill also establishes marine protected areas around islands where there will be no large scale commercial fishing or seabed mineral activity. This is in response to community requests for foreign boats to fish further away from their islands so that gamefish that swim close to islands may be caught by local fishermen.
The rest of the Cook Islands Exclusive Economic Zone will be zoned using regulations so that amendments can be made at any time. The Crown Law Office will incorporate the comments and the bill will be submitted to cabinet for final decision-making and then approval.