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Watershed moment’ for Marae Moana

6 February 2018- Cook Islands News

The meeting was followed by a meeting of the council on the same Friday and Puna says he’s pleased that after passing “this momentous piece of legislation (the Marae Moana Act). The government is now getting on with the important task of rolling it out.

The advisory group discussed its rules and procedures, some of which will be developed into regulations. Marae Moana director Jacqui Evans led that meeting at the Muri Beach Club in Ngatangiia. Group members also familiarised themselves with their terms of reference and the principles of the Marae Moana legislation.

The technical advisory group comprises representatives from relevant government agencies, non-government organisations, the House of Ariki and the Koutu Nui. They are responsible for producing policies, reports, work plans and marine spatial plans for council approval.

The Marae Moana Council also held its second and first full-membership meeting where they confirmed Puna as their chairman, adopted various rules and procedures, and requested a copy of the Marine Resources Bill, tabled in Parliament last December, for the advisory group and council members to comment.

“I am humbled to lead this Marae Moana Council and to have the support of members right across our community and different sectors, to deliver the Marae Moana action plan to the people of the Cook Islands.”

The council decided to ask the advisory group to perform several tasks including developing a schedule of marine-based activities that require management measures, a National Marae Moana spatial plan and a marine spatial plan for Suwarrow.

“Marine spatial planning is a key aspect of the Marae Moana legislation because it results in a map of marine protected areas as well as zones where certain activities may be permitted in the Cook Islands EEZ and around islands,” said Evans. “These activities may include fishing, seabed mining and exploration, and certain tourism activities.”

Already, marine protected areas extend 50 nautical miles around islands where large scale commercial fishing and seabed minerals activities are not permitted.

Evans said the primary purpose of the Marae Moana policy was the conservation of the biodiversity and natural assets in the oceans, reefs and islands of the Cook Islands, while ensuring the sustainable development of “economic growth interests.”

Marae Moana council members meet at the Office of the Prime Minister. Back row: Government and state-owned enterprises representative Tamarii Tutangata, Aitutaki mayor Tekura Bishop (southern group rep), parliamentary Opposition leader Smiley Heather, private sector representative Stephen Lyon, Religious Advisory Council representative Piltz Napa and House of Ariki president Kaumaiti Nui Tou Ariki. Front (from left) NGO representative Teina Mackenzie, prime minister Henry Puna (chairman) and Manihiki mayor Ngamata Napara (northern group representative).