In that time, like everyone we’ve watched as Muri lagoon steadily degraded into a weedy, lifeless pond.
But not this year. Thanks to the greatly increased water flow after deconstruction of the Aroko fish trap, we’ve been delighted to see a huge improvement in water quality.
The main lagoon off Sails is back to how it was when we first visited in 2004. The difference in fish numbers and variety in the Aroko/Avana area, however, has been even more marked, with large schools of mullet, juvenile butterflyfish, more rays, parrotfish and trevally, and greater numbers of birds than we’ve seen before.
By removing the fish trap you’ve removed a bottleneck and allowed the lagoon to flush twice daily.
I’d like to encourage the locals to consider deconstructing the Avana trap too - the sand bar it creates stretches halfway across the channel. Remove that venturi effect and you’ll have even greater flow, ironically with less current that will help fish numbers and make for safer conditions. A wide, slow river instead of a narrow, swift creek.
Environmental “good stories” are rare, so well done Rarotonga.
Lots of work ahead, but it’s shown us how local knowledge and hard graft can fix problems.