In its strides to establish the Cook Islands Marine Park, or the Marae Moana, key stakeholders met last month to discuss findings of a legal analysis facilitated by IUCN Oceania.
Participants of the meeting, held on 5 March in Rarotonga, included the Marae Moana Steering Committee which was established by a Cabinet decision (Cabinet CM 11/381) in September 2011. The Committee provides advice on the design, establishment and initial management of the Marae Moana, amongst its other roles and its members include the Office of the Prime Minister, National Environment Services, Ministry of Marine Resources, IUCN Member – Te’ Ipukarea Society, House of Ariki, and Koutu Nui.
The legal review was conducted over three months, commencing in October last year. The purpose was to undertake a legal analysis of the issues and options for the legal designation, establishment, design and management of the Marae Moana. Also to undertake a review of traditional management systems including ra’ui and atinga and identify options for integrating these within the Marae Moana framework.
“The Cook Islands Government has taken a bold step in committing to the establishment of the Marae Moana. The outcome of this meeting is positive but requires further work and commitment from all the key partners,” says Maria-Goreti Muavesi, Environmental Legal Officer at IUCN Oceania.
“We are not in a position to reveal the findings of the reports at this point, because the Steering Committee needs to deliberate on this and decide on next steps,” adds Muavesi.
The government of the Cook Islands hopes to establish the Marae Moana by 2015, to be one of the largest marine reserves established in the world.
A team from IUCN, including Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director for IUCN Global Marine and Polar Programme, and Taholo Kami, Regional Director of IUCN Oceania, were in the Cook Islands for this meeting.
Also present throughout the week was Global Blue representative, Richard Brown. Global Blue is providing financial support to the legal review, amongst other activities, for the Marae Moana. It is a financial services company dealing in VAT/GST refund, transaction solutions, currency conversion, advertising, media, training, etc. and headquartered in Switzerland. It is also supporting a project to protect manta rays and whale sharks in the Maldives.
Another highlight of the week was the signing of an agreement between IUCN and the Office of the Prime Minister to enable an expansion of activities regarding the zoning of the Marae Moana.
For more information, please contact Maria Muavesi at firstname.lastname@example.org