3 March 2016
After a year of discussion, the Marae Moana Oceans Policy is now with Prime Minister Henry Puna who will present it to Cabinet.
The policy, which guides the management and use of the Cook Islands marine environment, has been formulated in consultation with the public and other stakeholders.
The final version of the policy was agreed at a stakeholder meeting that ended on February 8.
On Tuesday the Prime Minister’s Office acknowledged receiving the policy, adding Puna will put that into action when he returns from a visit to the northern group where he and other CIP MPs are holding fishery discussions.
In a statement, Marae Moana Marine Park project manager Jacqui Evans said a “Legally Designating Marae Moana,” meeting had also been held last month to examine the pros and cons of closed ocean zones.
The meeting ended after a look at questions relating to the legal designation of Marae Moana.
Guest advisors included Dr Justin Rose, an adjunct senior lecturer at the USP School of Law, who examined the legislative framework.
He was assisted by Jon Day and Darren Cameron, both of whom have decades of experience with the establishment and management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Australia.
“While there are many differences with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park such as the size of funds available for education and management, there are also many similarities such as the need to ensure multiple groups are involved in the development and review of policies and legislation,” Evans said.
Two further lessons relevant to Marae Moana were the importance of considering the connections across a range of marine habitats from the island lagoons to deep oceanic waters, and the need to consider the cumulative impacts of activities and not just individual pressures in isolation.
“Another useful lesson was that the process to establish a marine park is both time-consuming and complex.”
Bearing in mind the ocean is already stressed by the impacts of climate change and other factors, Evans said the participants recommended that conservation should be the primary objective of Marae Moana.
“Uses such as fishing, mining and tourism can be supported provided they are done in a way that is consistent with the primary objective.” Birdlife International biologists Steve Cranwell and Karen Baird provided advice on what closed oceanic zones mean for seabirds.
The meeting was also attended by government agencies and MPs including Minister of Agriculture Kiriau Turepu, Minister of Finance Mark Brown and MPs Selina Napa and Tama Tuavera.
It was also attended by the National Council of Women, a representative from the Pae Tokerau, the Aronga Mana and Te Ipukarea Society.
Other groups invited included the Cook Islands Fishing Association, the Cook Islands Voyaging Society and Cook Islands Whale Research.” by Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News