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Cook Islands reiterates commitment to ocean conservation

Friday 10 May 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Economy, Environment, National

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Cook Islands reiterates commitment to ocean conservation
Prime Minister Mark Brown with National Environment Service director Halatoa Fua, left, Seabed Minerals Commissioner Alex Herman and Marae Moana ambassador Kevin Iro. OPM/24050920

Cook Islands’ efforts and ongoing commitment to ocean conservation and sustainable ocean management was highlighted by Prime Minister Mark Brown at a global conference.

Speaking at the Our Ocean conference held in Athens, Greece, last month, Brown said: “As Cook Islanders and Pacific peoples, we have an embedded culture of conservation and environmental management over our land and sea.”

“This has enabled us to sustainably use our marine resources while also ensuring their protection. We have been doing this for centuries. We are conservationists.”

In a statement, the Office of the Prime Minister said Our Ocean conference, now in its ninth year, provided a global platform for leaders to come together and address the urgent challenges facing oceans through various policies and initiatives.

The conference focussed on areas including climate change, marine protected areas, sustainable blue economies, maritime security, sustainable fisheries, and marine pollution – “all key priorities for the Cook Islands”.

Brown shared the Cook Islands efforts and ongoing commitment to ocean conservation and sustainable ocean management, as well as the critical role of regional and international cooperation.

On ocean governance he highlighted the Cook Islands pioneering ocean governance framework, Marae Moana, which aims to provide long-term, inter-generational benefits and security for the country.

“This framework drew upon the oceans management practices and wisdom of our ancestors and the best available science, allowing us to strike a harmonious balance between our economic interests and conservation ambitions.”

On sustainable fisheries, he highlighted the Pacific’s collective commitment to implementing world-leading regional controls and standards for sustainable fisheries management in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, particularly focusing on key tuna species.

On plastic pollution, Brown emphasised the Cook Islands’ commitment to negotiating a legally binding international instrument to end plastic pollution, particularly in the marine environment.

On seabed minerals, he reiterated the Cook Islands’ precautionary approach to the sustainable and responsible development of the sector. Brown emphasised the nation’s efforts to ensure transparent decision-making, inclusive processes, and environmental stewardship, ensuring that actions are guided by science and the needs of the Cook Islands people.

“Overall, I am pleased with the Cook Islands advocacy at this Our Oceans conference for our national and Pacific initiatives to ensure a healthy and resilient Blue Pacific Continent for present and future generations,” said Prime Minister Brown.

“In particular, this provided us with the opportunity to raise awareness of our leadership and commitments to sustainable oceans management within our Marae Moana.”

The Cook Islands delegation included Seabed Minerals Commissioner Alex Herman, National Environment Service director Halatoa Fua and Marae Moana ambassador Kevin Iro.