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NES seeks expert to bolster coastal protections for Rarotonga, Aitutaki

Thursday 4 July 2024 | Written by Talaia Mika | Published in Environment, Local, National

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NES seeks expert to bolster coastal protections for Rarotonga, Aitutaki
Halatoa Fua. Photo: Supplied/20102821

The National Environment Service (NES) is looking at boosting the protection for the coastal areas of Rarotonga and Autitaki in a bid to address current and future risks and concerns.

The agency hopes to achieve this through the Coastal Management Feasibility Assessment for Rarotonga and Aitutaki project. NES is working to seek an expert consultant to provide specialist guidance and to complete its feasibility assessments for management solutions.

The last consultant it hired was based in the Cook Islands working on the Turtle Management Plan, says NES director Halatoa Fua.

When asked what targeted solutions NES is looking to overcome through the latest project, Fua said the primary focus would be the analysis of coastal processes for Aitutaki as the coastal processes for Rarotonga are already largely understood and reported.

“Risks and concerns (both public and private sector stakeholders) with regards to: exposure to coastal hazards (current and with further climate change); performance of coastal protection works; impacts of coastal protection works on the key values of the coastline (environmental, recreational and cultural values for example),” he explained.

“Identification of pragmatic coastal management responses for the complete coastal zone of both islands, informed by the site-specific coastal processes and taking into consideration the location- specific environmental, social and financial constraints.

“Standardised design parameters and concept designs of coastal management works, covering all coastal compartments and including key design parameters for the site-specific conditions.”

Another objective, according to Fua, is the guidance to assist with evaluation of coastal management proposals and for their Environmental Impact Assessments. They include minimum standards for different types of coastal protection works including design considerations, construction standards, construction materials, as well as best-practice construction procedures; environmental and social safeguards covering both the construction and post-construction, guidance for Environmental Impact Assessment of coastal management works and targeted training for Government compliance staff.

There is also guidance required for permitting coastal management works within the Cook Islands environmental protection and legal frameworks, including conditionalities, liability and recommendations for any amendments to legislative instruments.

NES issued a notice earlier this week seeking for an expert consultant for the project with the goal to provide a robust basis for more informed planning, evaluation, implementation and management of the coastal zone.

The coastal management feasibility studies are intended to build on existing knowledge of coastal processes to provide holistic and actionable guidance.

When asked if only overseas consultants will be considered for the project, Fua said “it’s an open tender to seek the best candidate possible.”

The particular areas of assessment in Aitutaki and Rarotonga are coastal only, adds Fua.