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Environmental impacts of seabed mining brochure
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Te Ipukarea Society Brochure 2017-18

TIS Programme Manager Jacqui Evans has drafted a Strategic Plan till 2015 for the organization, which the Executive examined at their November meeting.

Key areas are a programme for youth to “learn by doing”, implementation of a comprehensive membership strategy, conservation work in the Marine Park (Key Biodiversity Areas and Important Bird Areas) and assisting government with the development of environmental policies.

TIS have so far sought input from the National Environment Service, Ministry of Internal Affairs Youth Division, the National Council of Women and Birdlife International. The plan is currently being re-aligned with the new National Sustainable Development Plan released earlier this month. A communications strategy is needed next to ensure our messages are getting out regularly and effectively. The plan will be completed by the end of Jan 2012.

This was an amazing opportunity to meet with those who have already set up Marine Parks/Protected Areas in Hawaii, Kiribati, Chagos (Indian Ocean),Great Barrier Reef and Motu Motiro Hiva (Rapanui). The catch phrase for the meeting was “L cubed: Link, learn and lend”. The linkages created, the knowledge learnt and the lending a helping hand.

The Cook Islands delegration included Tania Temata of the National Environment Service, Liz Koteka of the Office of the Prime Minister, Noeline Browne of the Marine Park Steering Committee, Tupe Short of Koutu Nui and Jolene Bosanquet of TIS. A full report on this conference will be out soon.

Whilst the Ministry of Marine Resources is responsible for our ocean, the new Act covering “Seabed Mining” comes under the Ministry of Finance. Daryl Thorburn has been appointed Seabed Mineral Advisor funded by the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.

We now have the framework in place for the exploitation of our polymetallic nodules on the seafloor, which make the Cook Islands the richest country of these resources. Hon Tom Marsters, DPM, has had a passion about accessing this resource since he travelled on a research vessel some 25 years ago. The challenge is that our seabed is 4miles down and no viable commercial operation has ever mined at that depth. FYI mining licenses now appear to be available for purchase.

An ongoing topic, which we believe is finally being addressed through WATSAN, Ministry of Infrastructure and the Waste Management committee on which TIS is represented.

We also have support and a commitment from the NZ High Commissioner John Carter to assist with the implementation of simple strategies that work in small town NZ.

In addition, TIS is proposing levy changes to assist in dissuading some products through pricing increases and persuading the use of more environmentally friendly products through pricing decreases eg increase on plastic bags levy, bottle recovery programme, reduce certain types of plastic containers imports, promote use of cornstarch/potato starch products in the market.

BTIB has recently taken over the management of Punanga Nui Market and discussion with them over waste management issues is planned soon.

Nick Askew from Birdlife International(BLI) came to Rarotonga to assist TIS with creating a funding strategy in order to resource the TIS Strategic Plan and ongoing work programme after March 2012. This work is supported by the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund.

Jacqui sits on the GEF National Focal Group (Global Environment Fund) hosted by CINCW. Approximately US400,000 is available for funding over the next three years for small environmental projects up to $NZ50,000 each. And also on the funding/aid/donors subject, TIS was invited to be part of a “think tank” organized by Peter Tierney of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management to streamline the management of funds coming into the Cooks.

One key component is for each member of this committee to ask via their respective networks for information on personal experiences in accessing funding – good and bad – and ideas to put forward to make the processes of applications, access to funds and reporting.

Therefore please make contact with Jacqui to assist her with the TIS report by January 2012.

Some of the TIS executive at a seabird survey debrief meeting

Welcome home to Ian Karika, after what was an eventful trip to the Northern Group to carry out the Seabird and Invasive Alien Species Survey.

Ian and his crew left Aitutaki in September on the MV “Orongo” and headed for Penrhyn and Manihiki islands that have not be surveyed since the 1980’s. Ian is currently completing the seabird survey report.

The visit was funded by the Packard Foundation, CEPF, SPREP and donations were received from Barbara Lawson and the Cummings family.

Nga Maireroa of the Cook Islands Ministry of Agriculture, Jacqui Evans of TIS and Liz Munroe of the National Environment Service

Jacqui Evans hand-carried a weed injector from New Zealand for the National Environment Service and Ministry of Agriculture to trial the control of invasive vines in the mountains of Rarotonga.

Jacqui received the weed injector and training from Allan Tye, the Invasive Species Advisor at SPREP.

Jacqui has passed this training and weed injector on to the two government agencies. Vines such as Ballon Vine (Cardiospermum grandiflorum) and Mile A Minute (Mikania micrantha) are growing over all trees in some valleys, killing the vegetation underneath.

It is hoped that the weed injector will be a rapid and effective method of removing invasive vines from Cook Islands forests.

Two years ago UNESCO set up a Commission in the Cooks creating greater exposure of UNESCO here. Previously it had been one person and a desk at MFEM. The Ministry of Culture initially set up the Commission but in September it was transferred to the Ministry of Education with Secretary Sharyn Paio as the new Commissioner.

Sharyn is now charged with appointing 5 persons to assist her in the specific areas of education, culture and environment. We are hopeful that a representative from TIS may be appointed.

This would be an amazing opportunity to tap into the world of the United Nations and bring ongoing benefits to the Cook Islands via their programmes and also funding for programmes initiated in the Cook Islands.UNESCO

TIS are receiving a grant from the European Union via Birdlife International to implement an invasive species project during 2012-2014. Invasive species are plants and animals that typically don’t belong naturally to a place (are introduced or alien to the environment) and when introduced to a place they can cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.

A well known example in the Pacific Islands is the myna bird which is a pest to humans and has also been found in some places to affect native bird populations. The Birdlife project in Cook Islands is to raise awareness of the problem of invasive species and the importance of biosecurity, to develop a biosecurity plan for Suwarrow and to measure the social and economic impacts in the Cook Islands of eradicating rats from Suwarrow. It will begin in March 2012.

Te Ipukarea Society made a submission on this plan to the Policy and Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Office. Overall, the plan has incorporated more green initiatives than in previous national plans, but has not gone far enough. TIS comments were as follows:

1. There is a need for an indicator of development progress additional to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP is only an indication of economic progress and does not measure our success in terms of our national vision which is “to enjoy the highest quality of life…”.

2. TIS has not supported seabed mining because we are concerned about the very little information we have about the impact of this activity on the inter-connectedness of our ocean (the precautionary principle). However, if seabed mining was to happen, the country should plan to establish an endowment fund from the proceeds.

3. TIS recommended that government develop policies to introduce economic incentives for the private sector to minimise impacts on the natural environment. Economic incentives will ensure businesses that meet environmental standards are rewarded and will make it expensive for businesses that pollute and degrade.

4. We need to re-orientate towards achieving zero waste as our ultimate goal. See www.zerowaste.co.nz For example, indicators may be set at achieving 50% waste reduction within 3 years and 80% waste reduction within 5 years. Also policies can be developed within our National Waste Strategy that ensure incentives for minimising waste production and regulate the importation of phosphate rich detergents and of unnecessary non-biodegradable products such as Styrofoam and plastic crockery and plastic shopping bags. Container deposits are another means of ensuring a higher percentage of recycling (New Zealander’s remember those days when glass bottles were returned to shops for 5 cents).

5. Economic incentives can be introduced to encourage the importation of energy-efficient vehicles, and discourage the importation of energy-inefficient vehicles. Energy-inefficient vehicles come at a significant economic and environmental cost and typically have large engines that are challenged at low speeds presenting safety issues on our roads.

6. Incentives can be introduced to encourage shipping that adopts green transportation technology
Incentives can be provided to home-owners to catch rain water from their rooftops in order to increase water storage and protect the coastal environment by reducing storm-water runoff.

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