The Ministry of Marine Resources (Tu’anga O Te Pae Moana), through the Cook Islands Ridge to Reef Project, is taking the lead on the development of the Aitutaki Lagoon Management Plan (ALMP).
Not only is the lagoon an important food basket for the people of Araura, it is has become a tourist destination.
The overall objective of the plan is, “To preserve the quality of the environment of the lagoon of Aitutaki.”
This is linked directly to risks caused by land-based activities, lagoon use activities and environmental changes which pose a risk to food security, tourism, public health and the lagoon’s ecosystem.
Consultations will begin in Aitutaki this week as the first phase of the planning begins. MMR has engaged the services of consultant Vaine Wichman to conduct a stakeholder analysis as the first phase of the management plan.
Wichman will facilitate a series of community meetings, focus group interviews and surveys in Aitutaki in the coming months.
Marine Resources secretary Ben Ponia says the management plan is long overdue, and commends the commitment of the Aitutaki Island Council and people to begin the planning process.
The overall aim of the plan for Aitutaki is in line with Te Kaveinga Nui – the country’s national goals until 2020, in particular Goal 12 - Sustainable management of oceans, lagoons and marine resources. It is also consistent with the Aitutaki Island Community Sustainable Development Plan (2016-2020), and the business plans of MMR, National Environment Services Ministry of Agriculture, the House of Ariki, the Cook Islands Tourist Corporation and the Ministry of Health.
The approach to the planning is for all those who have a stake in the use and management of Aitutaki Lagoon to come together, prepare a plan that suits their needs and aspirations and take responsibility for making it operational.
The stakeholder analysis will identify the stakeholders, define their roles in the preparation of the plan and define their roles in its implementation and monitoring.
The preparation of the plan will follow an integrated terrestrial and lagoon/reef ecosystem conservation approach, involving all stakeholders that impact on those ecosystems, a spokesman for the project says.
“Although, it’s overdue, the ball is now rolling and we would encourage constructive participants form our resources users and the general public as whole.”