Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Northern Islands Seabird Survey

Bird specialist and community liaison expert, Ian Karika will be doing a seabird and invasive alien species (IAS) survey in the northern Cook Islands during August-September. IAS are plants or animals that are introduced to a place and have an adverse effect on that place economically, environmentally or ecologically. IAS that directly affect birds include rats, cats and ants. Ana and Jacqui met with Pasha Carruthers of the National Environment Service on 28 June to discuss the survey and also share timetables of work for the rest of the year. The crew will be travelling on the MV Orongo, a boat based in Aitutaki for the trip. A volunteer skipper, Mark Needler from New Zealand will be driving the boat. The survey is supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Birdlife International and the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund (CEPF).
CEPF is a joint initiative of l.Agence Francaise de Developpement, Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation. The focus of CEPF is the conservation of threatened species and other globally important species. Photo for story is of the Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster or Kena) supplied by the Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust.

Water & Sanitation in Muri

The Water and Sanitation unit of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Planning (MOIP) has opened an office in Muri village.
The purpose is to facilitate work on the ground to improve wastewater management in Muri and protect the coastal coral lagoon ecosystem.
Water and Sanitation Technical Advisors Tekao Herman and Tai Nooapii at the WatSan Office, Muri
Muri Environment Care (MEC) offered MOIP the office space in part of the newly renovated Muri Meeting House at a meeting on 7th July.
The meeting house was renovated with funds from Seacology.
The office was opened during the visit of New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Murry McCully’s delegation of 14 July.
Memberships expired 30 June. Don’t forget to renew asap!Jacqui was requested to present the results of the septic tank audit done by the Cook Islands Ministry of Health last year.
Jacqui completed the report on the audit together with on-site wastewater ecological engineer Andrew Dakers.

Women in Science & Technology

Jacqui and Ana were invited to present at the Women in Science and Technology (WISAT) evening hosted by the Cook Islands National Council of Women on 19th July.
The WISAT evening brings high school girls together to learn about careers in science and technology.
Jacqui and Ana presented on the various careers in environmental protection and described their education, experience and daily tasks in their work.

Greening the Economy

Members of the executive committee met with Tina Newport on 7 July to discuss methods of turning the Cook Islands into a “green economy”. A green economy is one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. Tina is completing a report for the Cook Islands. The report highlights six “green growth paths”. These include:
Sustainable Consumption & Production
Greening Business & Markets
Sustainable Infrastructure
Green Tax and Budget Reform
Eco-efficiency Indicators
Investment in Natural Capital
The final report was to be submitted to the Office of the Prime Minister on 27th July.

Cook Islands Whale and Wildlife Centre Launched

Jacqui Evans and Jolene Bosanquet attended the launch of the Cook Islands Whale and Wildlife Centre at Atupa on 22 July.
“The new centre is absolutely fantastic! I can’t believe we have something like this in the Cook Islands,” says Jacqui.
The Cook Islands Whale Research building was renovated to establish a museum complete with collections of whaling memorabilia, items used in research, a small display of wildlife, comprising coconut crabs, centipedes and fish and even a mini-cinema.
There is also a small café at the centre.
The centre was expanded to include Wildlife Centre Ltd with Sheryl and Huw John as Directors.
“We’re just really happy to have finally made this happen!” says Nan Hauser, Director of Cook Islands Whale Research.
Cook Islands Whale Research also celebrated its 10th anniversary on the day of the launch.
After receiving a guided tour of the museum, Jacqui and Jolene bought themselves a T-Shirt in support of the centre.
Our members are encouraged to visit the centre because it’s an opportunity to educate the family about Cook Islands wildlife, treat themselves to a toasted sandwich and a flat white coffee and support a good cause.

Marine Park Proposal

The proposal is for a 1 million km2 multiple use marine park which will begin just south of Suwarrow and extend to include all the southern group islands to the boundary of our Exclusive Economic Zone. The park is proposed by an individual, Kevin Iro with the support of the Prime Minister’s Office (OPM) and the House of Ariki (formal body of traditional paramount chiefs). The Park has the support of both the government and the opposition party in Parliament.
The details of the marine park are yet to be confirmed as they will depend on public input during community consultations. It is uncertain whether seabed mining and purse seine fishing will be permitted inside the park, and if so, where. Most tuna fishing is around the northern group of the Cook Islands. Manganese nodules are found in highest densities north and west of Aitutaki and north-east and east of Suwarrow. Lower densities of manganese nodules extend towards Penrhyn in the north and Palmerston and Rarotonga in the south.
The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), together with the House of Ariki and National Environment Service has held a public consultation meeting in each of the three vaka (districts) on Rarotonga. The group, along with the Koutu Nui (formal body of traditional chiefs) has also been consulting with individuals from the outer islands during their stay on Rarotonga for the Te Maeva Nui Celebrations (independence). The consultations reveal that the public are supportive but have asked that further consultation be done on their islands where the remainder of their community resides. The northern group islands have questioned the focus on the southern group, but are reported to be unsure if they would like their islands to be part of the marine park as the benefits are still to be clarified with them.

Conservation International Visits Rarotonga

Prime Minister Henry Puna invited Sue Taei of Conservation International (CI) to the Cook Islands to share her experience with establishing large scale marine parks.
Sue has been heavily involved with establishing the 400,000 km2 Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA).
CI already supports TIS with work to identify Important Bird Areas and Key Biodiversity Areas in the Cook Islands.
A well-known photograph by Greenpeace is used in Kevin Iro’s marine park proposal presentation.
The Prime Minister hosted a meeting on 12 July with Sue and key stakeholders to learn of Sue’s experience in establishing PIPA.
Key stakeholders included TIS, Carmel Beattie, (Tourism), Ben Ponia (MMR), Vaitoti Tupa (NES), Tou Ariki (Are Ariki), Tekeu Framhein (Koutu Nui) and Wilkie Rassmussen (member of the opposition party).
Tim Carruthers, the Coastal and Marine Advisor from the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) was also in attendance.