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Prime Minister Pushes Marine Park Project

Wednesday March 25, 2015 Written by Phillipa Webb Published in Cook Islands News

An urgent meeting between the Prime Minister and Heads of Ministries was held on March 25, 2015 to attempt to push forward the Marae Moana marine park project. 

The ministry heads met with Puna, and Marae Moana representatives at the Muri Beach Club Hotel that morning. 

More than three years ago Prime Minister Henry Puna formally launched the Cook Islands Marine Park at the 43rd Pacific Leaders Forum, committing the country to establishing one of the largest areas in the world ever dedicated to ocean conservation and management.

But apart from wide public consultation, there has been no substantial move by government to make the marine park a reality. 

A task force was set up last month to come up with the ‘overarching’ policy framework needed to implement the proposed park. 

The task force is made up of Seabed Minerals Commissioner Paul Lynch, Office of the Prime Minister chief of staff Elizabeth Wright-Koteka, Marine Park project manager Jacqui Evans and Ministry of Marine Resources Secretary Ben Ponia. 

The group is expected to come up with the policy framework by June.

In a post-Cabinet press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Henry Puna denied that some Ministries such as Marine Resources had stalled progress because of the impact it would have on purse seine fishing licences.   

“But the marine park legislation will have to be allowed to be amended or reviewed as these [fishing] negotiations progress. We need to take a balanced approach.”