Cook Islands

Cooks discuss extention of fishing buffer zones

The Cook Islands news reports the Ministry of Marine Resources believes a 24 nautical mile buffer zone for all commercial fishing vessels is the most beneficial option and will ensure long term sustainability of local fishing.

The MMR's Tim Costelloe briefed cabinet on the effectiveness of buffer zones to be considered under the new Marae Moana Bill.

Currently, purse seiners are not permitted to fish within 24nms of any island, while the buffer zone for longliners is 12 nm for all islands except Rarotonga, which has a 24nm zone.

Public told to stop swimming in Cook Islands drinking water

Cook Islands News reports the Infrastructure Water Works Division has received a number of complaints about people swimming in restricted areas which store drinking water on Rarotonga.

The most recent complaint involved two tourists swimming in the Takuvaine water intake area.

The division manager, Wilson Rani, said signs clearly indicate swimming is banned and he is asking the public, including tourists and locals, to stop swimming at water intakes.

He said swimming could contaminate the water and cause serious health problems for people drinking it.

Recent heavy rainfall prompts warning to boil water in Cooks

They said tap water in much of the Cook Islands comes straight from the mountains and with recent heavy rainfall it was possible it could be contaminated.

Health protection officer Charlie Ave said they have a simple message for friends visiting from across the Pacific.

"When they come here they boil the water and let it cool down before drinking, or otherwise we have UV treated water stations around the islands where they can get their water from, or buy it from the shop," said Charlie Ave.

Cooks health officials identifying mosquito sites

They say the Cook Islands is currently free of mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika which are present in some neighbouring countries.

But a programme has been identifying properties with a variety of waste, animals present, and overflowing septic tanks, where mosquitoes could breed.

Tutaka programme co-ordinator Charlie Ave said the next step is to spray the sites as a precaution against the spread of disease.

Cooks Govt hopes to increase renewable energy for Rarotonga

The Green Climate Fund, a United Nations fund to help developing countries adapt to climate change, has granted the Cook Islands US$12 million to expand the main island's energy grid.

The announcement is the first of a series of projects, which will be led by the Asia Development Bank, to expand renewable energy around the Pacific.

The Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister's office, Elizabeth Wright-Koteka, said the current grid cannot handle the current uptake of renewable energy, and the expansion will help solve that.

Cooks aims for better response to invasive species

This comes after the importation of avocado trees from New Zealand and Australia seven years ago was believed to be the source of the destructive black twig borer now present in the country.

Minister Kiriau Turepu said both the ministry and private individuals had brought in the plants but he said it was a problem he had only been made aware of in the past two weeks.

Mr Turepu said the problem in the Cook Islands was the lack of a post quarantine facility to ensure the plants were disease free.

But he said he expected this to change quickly.

Cook Islands and Vanuatu make progress on blacklisting of Vanuatu tuna boat

The Essien No. 108 was caught fishing without a license in Cook Island waters in December last year.
After a lengthy investigation by Vanuatu authorities the vessel’s operator was ordered to pay a fine of USD$186,000 (approx. Vt 20 million) which the Vanuatu government passed on to the Cook Islands on Friday in a last minute bid to avoid the blacklisting of the boat.

"Everyone has a role to play," – Cook Islands at the global biodiversity conference

Cook Islands Associate Minister of Environment, Mr. Mona Ioane shared the actions undertaken by the island nation to mainstream biodiversity into the fisheries and aquaculture sector.

This was one of four theme different High Level Roundtable Discussions that took place. One of these themes is the integration of biodiversity into cultural and traditional planning of locally managed marine areas.
"Ra'ui is our way to protect the harvest of our fisheries through cyclic fishing bans in certain coastal areas at different times.

Vanuatu payment made to Cook Islands for Illegal fishing

The payment was made to ensure the black listing of one of the country’s flagged fishing vessels at this week’s Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission(WCPFC) 13th regular meeting in Nadi, Fiji this week did not take place.
The Vanuatu Department of Fisheries’ Compliance Manager, William Matariki, who is leading Vanuatu’s two-member delegation at the Commission meeting, confirmed this development to the Daily Post.

Vt18 million fine for Vanuatu for Illegal fishing

Director of Fisheries, Kalo Pakoa, has confirmed that the flagged vessel, a Chinese flagged long liner ESSEN 108 entered into Cook Islands’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), in December 2015.
The matter was not reported in time and it was mid-2016 when Vanuatu got a report from the Cook Islands, and kick-started negotiations for a settlement.
“We have managed to get the ship owner or the operator to commit to a fine to pay the Cook Islands,” Director Pakoa told Vanuatu Nightly News’ Kizzy Kalsakau.