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

The inception of the BPISP project was held in Auckland 3-4 November. The purpose of the meeting was to clarify roles, set up project monitoring, research needs, training needs, the communications plan and programme administration.

Project Coordinator’s from New Caledonia, Palau, French Polynesia, Fiji and our own TIS Programme Manger from the Cook Islands attended the meeting. Also present were advisors from the Pacific Invasives Initiative, Birdlife International, University of the South Pacific, SPREP, Department of Conservation and LandCare Research.

A field trip to Rangitoto Island demonstrated to participants the work done to eradicate rats from Rangitoto and how to keep the island pest free.

SPREP will be contributing NZ$2,000 towards the seabird and Invasive Alien Species survey in the northern group. The survey will:

1. Complete an inventory of all bird species for each island and motu and census population sizes with an emphasis on seabirds and particularly resident or threatened species
2. Identify all introduced mammalian threats present (feral and domestic) with particular attention to species that threaten seabirds. As possible collect information on other IAS taxa ie ants and weeds
3. Assess the feasibility (technically and socially) to eradicate mammalian IAS
4. Complete pelagic surveys for seabirds using a recognised transect methodology
5. Assess bird populations against IBA criteria and document survey results, management needs (including feasibility of IAS eradications) and priorities for all islands and at sea areas surveyed
The main donor for this project is the Packard Foundation, with the Critical Ecosystems Parntership Fund also providing support.

Ken MacDonald, who is coordinating water and sanitation work in the Cook Islands, met with TIS to seek our interest in participating in the WatSan project steering committee.

Ken’s position is funded by the NZAID Waste Management Initiative project. This project was designed by Geoff Mavromatis, Teariki Matenga and Andrew Dakers following NZAIDs recognition of sanitation issues via work done under the CIMRIS1 project.

Ken has been on island since August 2011. TIS is delighted to participate in the steering committee and looks forward to working closely with MOIP and their WatSan team.

[1] CIMRIS – Cook Islands Marine Resources Institutional Strengthening Project

IUCN Oceania Marine Coordinator, Jan Steffen visited the Cook Islands to meet with TIS and learn more about the marine programme that TIS wishes to implement.

We are supportive of the establishment of a Marine Park as we believe this will encourage wider participation in the management of the Cook Islands biodiversity and it will draw attention to the Cook Islands because of the leadership and commitment we are demonstrating to step-up conservation in our country.

While we are aware about plans to license purse seine fishing vessels and other large-scale commercial fishing boats, we believe that the marine park status will provide impetus to put conservation measures in place. This includes gear to avoid catching turtles and seabirds and conditions that prevent shark-finning in our waters.

TIS is also concerned about the environmental impacts of seabed mining. TIS has also been involved with work of the Ministry of Marine Resources and Crown Law to draft regulations to strengthen the marine ra’ui (traditional prohibition on fishing). We are hopeful that we can work closely with IUCN to bring our marine programme to fruition.

One of the immediate benefits of being a member of IUCN, is that TIS can actively and confidently assist the establishment of the Marine Park of the Cook islands due to its ability to access both information and expertise through our membership status with this internationally recognized and important conservation organization.

We were visited recently by Milika Sobey, the IUCN Oceania Water and Wetlands Coordinator. Milika was here to provide technical advice at a regional water conference. She also provided training to TIS on the use of a climate change vulnerability assessment tool called CRISTAL.

The report “Greening our Blue World: A Report on Cook Islands National Assessment on Greening the Economy” was completed by Cook Islands consultant Christina Newport this month.

The report was commissioned by the Office of the Prime Minister and UNESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific). TIS made a submission on this report. The report aims to assist the Cook Islands with its national and regional preparations for the Rio+20 Summit in 2012.

The report says that across the five Green Growth pathways of sustainable consumption and production the Cook Islands have a number of initiatives in place or under development that are consistent with a Green Growth strategy. These are green tax and budget reform, sustainable infrastructure, green business and markets as well as investing in natural capital. The current Cook Islands government have set a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2020.

However, the report warns that while the sector is not restricted by human resource inertia or lack of political will, future Green Growth actions will be limited by absorptive capacity and resourcing unless future activities are well integrated and consistent with other priorities.

Henrike Seidel and Padma Narsey Lal 2010

“The Pacific Ocean is under threat from overexploitation, pollution and habitat destruction. These threats are caused by a range of unsustainable and unregulated uses; amongst those are the ocean-based economic sectors and activities presented in this report.

If the current “business as usual” approach to resource use in the Pacific is to prevail in addition to predicted climate change effects, Pacific Island economies face the prospect of becoming non-viable. Economies beyond the Pacific Island region can also suffer from the resulting loss of tuna stocks and a decline in the tourism industry since key players are often foreign nationals and large multinational corporations.

However, the largest cost by far will be borne by the people of the Pacific Islands whose livelihoods, cultural identity, and food security are at stake. There is a common lack of understanding about the incremental change in economic value as the health of the Pacific Ocean changes. Further deterioration of its state of health could have significant and negative impact on the economic wellbeing of Pacific Islanders. This will primarily affect those reliant on the tourism and fisheries sectors that depend directly on healthy ecosystems. The projected costs of climate change to the development of the Pacific islands economies are expected to be US$7billion over the next 20 years. These costs are mainly caused through losses in tourism income and employment, losses in fisheries yields and reduced human health, damages from reduced coastal protection and erosion.

Additionally, damages from liquid and solid waste pollution can cause costs of millions of dollars to each Pacific Island country and territory. To address key environmental threats facing the countries and the region as a whole in an effective and timely fashion, increased political will and collaboration between and within countries at all governance levels is urgently needed.

The PICTs and Pacific Rim countries need to build on past and ongoing resource and environmental initiatives, including transboundary efforts such as the Micronesian Challenge, and locally managed marine areas, and develop and implement cross-sectoral, partnership based and multipronged, actions across the Pacific Ocean that would also mobilise widespread public support. Such a process needs to be guided by comprehensive and reliable information about economic values and arguments regarding the “cost of inaction”. Such an approach, as compared to purely science based advocacy, is more likely to appeal to the conscience of decision-makers and the hearts and minds of the leaders of the Pacific region that urgent action is needed now and into the future.

Biggest challenge is information gaps. Targeted economic valuation of goods and services associated with key ecosystems in the Pacific is also needed to further enable evidence-based policy advice. It will be the responsibility of the Leaders of the Pacific nations, the politicians and governments and all key stakeholders including the public at large, to take this information and act for the sustainability for the Pacific Ocean, even if it may mean moving beyond traditional comfort zones.

The legal advisor for the Seabed Minerals Authority, Paul Lynch held a public meeting to share information about seabed mining and associated environmental impacts. The meeting was advertised in the newspaper but was attended by only four people.

TIS shared their concerns about seabed mining and asked whether this would be conducive to establishing a marine park. At the meeting TIS received information materials published by SOPAC and are happy to distribute information to anyone interested.

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.

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.

NOTICE: 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.

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