10 July 2017
The Marae Moana Bill is scheduled to be debated in Parliament today. The purpose of the bill is to formally establish Marae Moana over the entire Exclusive Economic Zone of the Cook Islands as well as the lagoons, reefs and territorial seas.
As part of the Bill, the 50-nautical mile Marine Protected Areas will be established around each of the islands where no longline, purse seine fishing, or seabed minerals activities are permitted. “We have been looking forward to this day for a long time,” says Marae Moana Ambassador, Kevin Iro. “With the leadership of the government and the House of Ariki, a lot of work has been done to ensure the communities on all islands have been informed and consulted about the Marae Moana proposal. “And since then, we have been in discussions with government agencies, the opposition in Parliament, the Koutu Nui, private sector and NGOs about the details of the policy and legislation.”
Iro says the Marine Protected Areas around each of the islands are a precautionary measure to protect biodiversity including whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles, and seabirds. “This aims to ensure healthier ecosystems and assist with economic gains through activities such as ecotourism. “They are also a precautionary measure to provide an opportunity for tuna to spawn. “Additionally, they aim to provide local fishermen with an improved chance of catching tuna. “The idea is to bolster economic gains as local fishermen catch more fish for sale, as well as to feed their families.”
Iro says Marae Moana, also known as the Cook Islands Marine Park, will help promote the Cook Islands as a “clean and green” tourist destination. “The legislation will provide the framework to implement projects such as Mei te Vai Ki te Vai, the renewable energy project, waste management projects, sustainable fisheries and other environmental initiatives,” says Iro. Cook Islands News