The international travel review website Trip Advisor has published a number of comments from holidaymakers unhappy with the growth of green algae blanketing Muri lagoon and now washing ashore the tourism hotspot.
One tourist writes that she is staying in Muri and is enjoying the weather and the “Cook Islands’ vibe.”
“But I’m not enjoying the mess we see that washes up on the shore everyday… the green algae infestation in the lagoon is a serious problem that needs to be addressed urgently or tourism to the area will be adversely affected.
“Not one to normally complain, but I read with concern a report by Cook Islands Tourism chief executive officer Halatoa Fua that the huge piles of green algae washing up on the shores of the lagoon are not a big issue and that ‘some people are enjoying the green algae because it is attracting fish’.”
Another tourist who recently spent two weeks in Rarotonga said he was glad his family was not staying in Muri.
“…I found when that when you got out on the water that there was a lot of algae floating around. All of the businesses along the beach would actually have to go out and rake up all of the algae off the beach during low tide.”
Another visitor said Muri lagoon used to be the best spot on the island.
“My recent visit was very disappointing to see all the algae and hardly any fish in the lagoon. There might be a lot of things to hire and restaurants, but the lagoon itself is unattractive; it smells very bad and has hardly any fish in it.”
A group of volunteer experts has been set up to draft an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report on options for clearing out the lagoon.
Group member Paul Maoate of Infrastructure Cook Islands said it had been decided to break the EIA into three separate applications.
The first was the option of removing the Aroko fish trap, the second involved dredging the lagoon and the third looked at ways of physically removing the algae or removing blockages in the reef.
CI News understands the report will be circulated around technical experts who will be able to change and add information.
The report will then be given to the National Enviroment Service before going to public consultation.
However, Rarotonga Enviroment Authority has the final say on what will be done at Muri.