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Aitutaki views draft whale policy

Monday February 08, 2016 Written by Published in Outer Islands
Ministry of Marine Resources held a public consultation on the draft Whale Sanctuary Policy in Aitutaki last week. 16020201 Ministry of Marine Resources held a public consultation on the draft Whale Sanctuary Policy in Aitutaki last week. 16020201

A public consultation on the draft Whale Sanctuary Policy was held in Aitutaki last Monday. 

 

The Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) began consultations late last year following the development of the draft policy for the Cook Islands Whale Sanctuary and guidelines.

The meeting in Aitutaki was to inform the general public along with key stakeholders such as fishermen and tour operators about the draft policy which will provide enforceable effect to the Whale Sanctuary declared in 2001.

The sanctuary covers the entire exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Cook Islands.

New legislation will provide protections for whales living in and migrating through our waters and will regulate human activity that may or may not impact on whales.

“Whales in the Cook Islands are a precious resource. Not only do they contribute to a healthy and diverse ecosystem, but they have been a historical part of our culture and traditions for eons,” MMR said in a statement.

The draft policy will enable regulations to be developed, which will benefit watercraft operators, aircraft operators, fishermen and others which may come into proximity or contact with whales, as they will now have a clear understanding of permissible and prohibited behaviour.

MMR’s director of legal and policy, Mathilda Miria-Tairea headed the consultation in Aitutaki which was held at Ureia Hall.

Miria-Tairea said they would take the public views into the consideration in developing the regulations which will follow.

The draft documents can be found online at: http://1drv.ms/1VVj1xH.  - Release

1 comment

  • Comment Link BROTHA Q Tuesday, 09 February 2016 00:29 posted by BROTHA Q

    It would be good to let the people of the Cook Islands know that, None of the Aitutaki stake holders and/or people of Aitutaki that attended the meeting were happy about the new policy/legislation that MMR had brought before them. in fact every one was opposed to the proposed regulations or even having any. There has never been a whale hurt here or in the cooks that we know of so why are we doing this. Good solid education on interaction with whales is all we need. Quite the opposite Every one wanted to turn the whole thing around and introduce swimming with the whales to Aitutaki as we are pretty sure Tonga and Australia signed some similar sort of agreement for protecting whales but have a thriving swim with the whale tourism attraction so why can't we follow a similar module. In Aitutaki we have only 4 to 5 months of the year to save as much as we can during the tourist season which we only get roughly 10% of the tourists that fly into Rarotonga. We have our lagoon and deep sea fishing which over the years has been slowing down as it is also threatened by the over fishing from the big foreign fishing vessels that apparently if they catch and kill a whale nothing happens to them other than it being reported while if we locals get to close with no intention of hurting a whale we are subject to $250,000.00 penalties/fines. At the meeting a motion was put forward that MMR returns to Aitutaki before any policy or Legislation is put through to see if any of our views would be seriously considered as they have a habit of saying they will consider our views, never coming back to consult the people again and going ahead with their own plans anyway.
    There were lots of questions asked from people that MMR had no answers for. We asked for a deadline for any submission letters to be presented but they did not know the proper deadline.
    If CI News had a meeting, or done some journalism on what the Aitutaki people/stakeholders had to say I'm sure it would be very interesting as it seems in Mondays write up has no feed back from anyone else. In One of there whale meetings in Raro it had pictures of whales with local boats in it including my own that MMR said were boats harrassing whales which was totally wrong and some seeking legal advice if anything could be done as this was miss leading and bad for business. When asked about this at the meeting in Aitutaki they confirmed it and said they have taken them down because of this and did not show any at the meeting.
    Love swimming with whales.