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

TIS submitted a motion on seabed mining to the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Korea last month.

The final motion was entitled “Protection of the deep ocean ecosystem and biodiversity from the threats of sea bed mining”

Co-sponsors (supporters) of the TIS motion were: Tonga Community Development Trust, University of the South Pacific, National Trust of Fiji Islands, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc., The Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ Inc and the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales.

The motion was accepted by the Resolution Working Group and was merged with a similar motion submitted by Agence des Aires Marines Protégées – France. In the end, the scope of motion went from Pacific Ocean to include all ocean ecosystems. The motion was passed with support from Government members (95.5% voted yes) and NGO members (99.56% voted yes).

Invited by Prime Minister Henry Puna, Sylvia Earle was in the Cook Islands during the Pacific Islands Forum last month. Sylvia is an oceanographer, aquanaut and author. Named by Time Magazine as the first “Hero for the Planet”, Sylvia was a research fellow or associate at Harvard University from 1967-1991 and was a chief scientist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atomospheric Administration from 1990 to 1992. Since 1998 she has been a National Geographic explorer-in-residence.

Sylvia led the first team of women aquanauts in 1970. In 1979, she made an open-ocean JIM suit dive to the sea floor near Oahu, setting a women’s depth record of 381 metres (1,250 ft). She also holds the women’s depth record for a solo dive in a submersible: 1,000 metres (3,300 ft).

Sylvia is an advocate of marine protection and has given scientific, technical and general interest lectures in over 60 countries.
Says Sylvia: “People ask: Why should I care about the ocean? Because the ocean is the cornerstone of earth’s life support system, it shapes climate and weather. It holds most of life on earth. 97% of earth’s water is there. It’s the blue heart of the planet — we should take care of our heart. It’s what makes life possible for us. We still have a really good chance to make things better than they are. They won’t get better unless we take the action and inspire others to do the same thing. No one is without power. Everybody has the capacity to do something.”

Sylvia had dinner with the Prime Minister in Rarotonga, went SCUBA diving in Aitutaki and spent time with TIS and Nan Hauser of Cook Islands Whale Research during a whale watching tour with the Conservation International CEO and staff.

Prime Minister Henry Puna highlighted the challenge of invasive alien species at the Pacific Islands Forum last month. Invasive species are plants, animals and diseases that enter a country – often accidentally on ships, in agricultural goods, in people’s airline luggage – and then spread.
Once established they cause extensive ongoing problems.

A discussion paper and information booklet was produced to provide background for Pacific Leaders during their discussion of the issue at the Forum.
The Pacific Invasive Initiative provided the technical background for the publications.
In the Forum Communique, Leaders “reaffirmed the importance of dealing effectively with invasive species at both national and regional levels, and requested SPREP and SPC to increase their efforts in that regard, working with other actors as appropriate.”

To coincide with Environment Week, Tania Temata has been chosen as recipient of the TIS Environmental Award.

“This Award is presented to either an individual or organization or business who is a champion of environmental issues and Tania is very deserving of this Award” says Ian Karika, President of the Society.

In citing the reasons for receiving this award, the award reads “for carrying out your various roles at the National Environment Service with excellence for over twenty years, through untiring service and love for the people of the Cook Islands and the Pacific, thereby making a difference to the wellbeing of the planet”.

“Most of us at TIS have worked with Tania as environmental colleagues and we have always
been impressed with her dedication, intelligence and determination, whether at home or on the world stage, pushing for positive measures to protect the Cook Islands environment”, commented Jacqui Evans, Programme Manager for TIS. Congratulations Tania.

Environment Week 2012 was launched by Associate Minister of the Environment, Ata Herman, at The Art Studio in Arorangi and featured beautifully decorated cloth bags by local artists. The theme was say YES to reuseable bags, aimed at changing the mindset of the public away from plastic bags.

“We believe in focusing on the positive. Rather than saying NO to plastic bags, say YES to cloth bags and reuseable bags” commented Jolene Bosanquet of the TIS Waste Management committee. TIS promotes the Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recyle slogan.

Honoured by the Queen for services to the community and now known as Dame Makea Karika Margaret Ariki DBE, is our wonderful Patron of TIS.

After the official ceremony held in the Auditorium, Dame Margaret, who is also a Paramount Chief, changed into a traditional tapa costume and was carried by pa’ata to a celebration in the Takamoa grounds. Congratulations Dame Margaret.

TIS VP Andy Olah demonstrating his glass crushing machine

Our Vice-President Andy Olah has purchased some machines that crush glass bottles so fine, the result is glass sand. He says he is currently stockpiling the crushed glass as it has multiple uses.

“It can be used as a base for roading and as a base before pouring concrete for a concrete foundation,” says Andy. “It has even been used in vineyards in New Zealand because the reflective properties of the glass accelerate the ripening of grapes,” Andy adds.
Previously crushed mussel shell has been used for this purpose.

Andy says crushed glass is also being trialled for sporting turf and sand bunkers on golf courses.

TIS visited the islands of Atiu and Aitutaki to raise awareness in the community about the identification of their islands as Key Biodiversity Areas and Important Bird Areas (KBA/IBA).

KBAs and IBAs mark the places on earth that have global importance for conservation. They must meet one or more internationally accepted criteria. In simple terms for the Cook Islands, a place can qualify as a KBA/IBA if it contains globally threatened plants or animals, unique species or globally significant populations of a species.
Atiu island (29km2) has a population of 570 people who have responsibility over the biodiversity on Atiu and the nearby uninhabited island of Takutea (1km2).

Atiu was identified as a Key Biodiversity Area and Important Bird Area (KBA/IBA) because of five bird species, five landsnails, an endemic plant and two species of marine turtle. Bird species which qualify Atiu as an Important Bird Area are the endemic Atiu Swiftlet (Collocalia sawtelli), the endangered Rimatara Lorikeet (Vini kuhlii), the endangered Rarotonga Flycatcher (Pomarea dimidiate) and the endemic Cook Islands Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus rarotongensis). The vulnerable Bristle Thighed Curlew (Numenius tahitiensis) is a candidate bird species for the Atiu IBA.

Takutea is an important bird area because of its globally significant population of Red Tailed Tropic Bird. 1600 birds were counted in 2008.

Aitutaki qualifies as a KBA/IBA because of two bird species, six landsnails, an endemic spider and a coral reef fish, the Humphead Wrasse. The Aitutaki Island Council asked TIS for help with protecting a bird refuge and marine protected area. They also want their bird populations monitored.

Work to identify KBAs and IBAs in the Cook Islands is supported by the Critical Ecosystems Parntership Fund (CEPF) through Birdlife International. 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.

The WatSan programme is making good progress to upgrade sanitation systems in Muri village. Tekao Herrmann of WatSan advised that already, 20 properties with septic tanks in good condition have had their septic tanks retrofitted with “biofilters”.

Biofilters are scientifically proven to advance the treatment of septic tank effluent by up to 40%.
“Another 200+ properties will either need their septic tanks replaced or will require the installation of packaged treatment plants because the existing system is inappropriate or failing,” says Herrmann. “The replacement tanks will also have biofilters installed,” Herrmann adds.

TIS Programme Manager, Jacqui Evans, who previously worked on sanitation policy at the Ministry of Health says she thinks the programme will lead to improvements in Cook Islands sanitation overall.
“Simply getting this work done is improving the technical knowledge of those involved in this programme,” says Evans. “This will have long-lasting effects,” she explains.

WatSan is advertising for tenders to upgrade sanitation systems on the other 200+ properties in Muri. There is also a high-level tender to perform a cost-benefit analysis examining the various options for sanitation on Rarotonga. Options include:
1. Centralized sewerage where sewage is piped to a central place, treated and then disposed either in the ocean outside the reef or on forest/plantations inland,
2. Cluster systems where several properties share one treatment system
3. On-site treatment where each property treats and disposes of their wastewater on-site (the current arrangement except for Tepuka-Tereora) and
4. A combination of cluster and on-site systems.

The deadline for submission of high-level tenders has closed and recommendations have been put forward to the tender committee.

The WatSan programme is implemented by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Planning and funded by NZAid and AusAID. The programme was devised because of concerns over increasing development on Rarotonga and Aitutaki’s coastline and the effect of inadequately treated wastewater on the health of the coastal lagoon and coral reef.

TIS is represented on the Programme Steering Group along with other government and non-government stakeholders. “We’re pleased with the progress,“ says Evans. “This is not an easy process but the Ministry of Infrastructure and Planning is doing really well,” she says. “It’s largely because of their active and dedicated Acting Secretary, Donye Numa, their Programme Coordinator Ken MacDonald, and their fabulous team, Tai Nooapii, Tekao Herrmann, and Paul Maoate.”

Miss Cook Islands and Miss South Pacific 2006 Krystina Kauvai was the education coordinator but she has now moved to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management.

Evans says the programme will assist with building the capacity needed to inspect and enforce the Public Health Sewage Regulations 2008. “This is needed urgently,” she says. Evans says she is uncertain if enforcement capacity will be improved through supporting the Ministry of Health or by altering the regulations so that MOIP has responsibility of regulating construction and Health the sanitation responsibility. “Whatever the case, building capacity for enforcement is an essential part of the programme,” she says.

In our story “TIS Position on the Exploratory Fishing Issue” we mentioned legislation that “makes exploratory fishing exempt from many ordinary requirements to protect our marine life.” We were referring to the Marine Resources (Large Pelagic Longline Fishery) Order 2011 Section 2 (5) of the Schedule which says the Fishery Plan in the Schedule does not apply to exploratory fishing. We want to know why exploratory fishing was excluded from all the rules and conditions of other long line fishing activities.

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