Cook Islands Marine Park Task Force Progressing Quickly

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Conservation management policy, legislation to be done this year

By Rashneel Kumar

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, July 20, 2015) – The taskforce working on the proposed Marae Moana Marine Park is making swift progress in getting the project finalised.

The taskforce which includes project manager Jacqui Evans, Paul Lynch, Elizabeth Wright-Koteka, Ben Ponia and Joseph Brider have set a timeline to achieve their goal.

In a meeting last week, they agreed on getting the policy and legislation in place by the end of the year.

The taskforce circulated three draft policies for public scrutiny and received positive feedback.

Evans says they are up for the challenge and committed to deliver the legislation on time.

"It's a very ambitious timeline, with a general rule of providing only a week for writing and a week for review of the various documents that have to be put together.

"But we're going to have a go at it. We need everyone to do their bit. It's also dependent on the various stakeholders reaching an agreement.

"Some compromises will need to be made, but everyone will also come out winners in other areas."

Principles in the policy include protection, conservation and presentation, ecologically-sustainable use of resources, the adoption of the precautionary principle, recognition of the mana as responsible stewards, participation, transparency and equity, recognition of a wide range of stakeholders’ values, and ensuring that Marae Moana reflects the culture and traditions of the Cook Islands.

The Cook Islands Marine Park was launched by Prime Minister Henry Puna more than three years ago at the 43rd Pacific Leaders Forum.

He committed the nation to establishing one of the largest areas in the world dedicated to ocean conservation and management.

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