Cook Islands

Grounding disrupts shipping in Cooks outer islands

Its director Josiah Taio said it was "back to square one" for the company with just two ships supplying the northern and southern groups.

An inquiry was underway into how the 40-metre Moana Nui ended up on the Nassau reef last Thursday during a spate of rough weather.

A three-man insurance team has travelled to inspect the ship.

Mr Taio said the Moana Nui, which completed an epic delivery journey from Norway just last October, was to put an end to the outer islands going weeks without supplies.

New record for Cook Islands tourism

The country welcomed a total of 146,473 visitors last year.

The leading market for tourists, New Zealand, was up 18 percent while the strongest growth was in visitors from Japan at 76 percent.

A study last year showed the need for the sector to change its approach and focus on having people staying longer and spending more.


Photo: 123rf A Cook Islands beach. 

Buffer zones for fishing disputed in Cook Islands

Currently, purse seiners are not permitted to fish within 44km of any island, while the buffer zone for long liners is 22km for all islands except Rarotonga, which has a 44km buffer.

The Ministry of Marine Resources has said it is concerned that expanding buffer zones to 93km would have limited benefits.

It said in comparison a 44km buffer would provide sufficient conservation benefits without creating congestion in legal fishing areas or making it more difficult to monitor foreign fishing vessels.

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.