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Vaimaanga residents sought for input on turtle tour operations

Wednesday 15 May 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Environment, National

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Vaimaanga residents sought for input on turtle tour operations
A community consultation for residents in Vaimaanga will be held on Thursday to share their views and experiences about the increase of turtle operators in their space. TIS/24051414

A community consultation for residents in Vaimaanga and stakeholders, including traditional leaders and landowners, will be held tomorrow, Thursday, May 16, at 6pm at the Vaimaanga Meeting House

Te Ipukarea Society (TIS) in partnership with Te Puna Vai Marama are hosting the community consultation at the request of the National Environment Service.

The focus of the consultation are the passages of Avaavaroa, Papua and Rutaki on the southern side of the island.

TIS director Alanna Smith said the community is invited to share their views and experiences about the increase of turtle tour operators in their space whether it be good or bad.

“We want the community to have their say to gather insight into the use of these passages to put together an environment management plan,” said Smith.

“These passages are experiencing increased interest from turtle operators, hence why these are the ones given priority in terms of scope for this environmental management plan.”

The Ministry of Marine Resources held a public consultation in March to develop policies and regulations to strengthen sea turtle management and mitigate interactions with them, protecting sea turtle populations in the Cook Islands.

Smith says NES will be looking more at conservation efforts at the habitat space of these passages such as the coral and the shoreline. 

“We will be looking to develop this environment management plan which will have legislative teeth to it under the Environmental Act 2003.”

Views raised during the consultation will help guide and inform decision-making and contribute towards the development of an Environmental Management Plan to address the long-term sustainable use and management within key areas of concern, including turtle conservation.