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Te Ipukarea Society Brochure 2017-18
Hillary Clinton Supports Cook Islands Sanctuary Students from Mangaia school

We would like to thank and congratulate the Pacific Islands Conservation Initiative (PICI) for this achievement….

The Cook Islands established the world’s largest continuous shark sanctuary last month, enforcing heavy fines on violators who are found with any part of a shark on board their vessel in the 1.997 million sq. km (771,000 sq. miles) Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The sanctuary protects all sharks from targeted fishing and aims to prevent possession, sale, and trade of shark products. The animals are often killed to satisfy the high demand of shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy that sells upwards of $100 a bowl. Sharks targeted for this purpose are often thrown back into the ocean after their fins have been cut off, making it impossible for them to survive.

As many as one-third of all open ocean shark species face the threat of extinction, and the reduction in their numbers severely affect the ecosystem around them – especially since it often takes years for a shark to mature and since they have very few young.

In June 2012, there were reports that three tons of shark fins were found aboard an Asian fishing vessel in the Cook Islands, which led to a parliamentary debate over the extent of the problem. There is no data on the number of sharks killed in the Cook Islands each year, which makes it difficult to estimate the severity of shark fishing.

The Pacific Islands Conservation Initiative (PICI) spent more than 18 months gathering support for a much-needed sanctuary, after which the Cook Islands declared the entire 1.997 million sq. km EEZ, an area the size of Mexico, a sanctuary protecting sharks, rays, and elasmobranchs. Violators of the sanctuary’s regulations will be fined between $100,000 NZD ($84,000 USD) and $250,000 NZD ($210,550 USD).

Jess Cramp, program manager at PICI, said her group’s campaign was difficult at first and struggled to garner support from Cook Island legislators. The group was met with heavy opposition until it began to get the island community involved.

“We were met with strong opposition from the head of fisheries at first. So much that it made us question why he was so defensive about banning shark fishing,” Cramp said. “So what we did then is we went out into the community and we gave community presentations, we sent letters to the community we couldn’t reach – because it was expensive to get to the outer islands – and we began to acquire what we called ‘shark ambassadors.’”

The Cook Islands has a greater presence on the international conservation stage.

Te Ipukarea Society member Ana Tiraa was voted in as an Oceania councillor for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

She joins Australian Brendon Mackey and Andrew Bignell from New Zealand as the three new representatives from the Oceania region.

A founding member of Te Ipukarea Society, Tiraa previously held positions in the global organisation, most notably as an executive committee member and Oceania representative on the Transboundary Specialist Group (TSG).

Her appointment came at the IUCN Congress being held in Jeju, South Korea, and sees her join an elite group of 34 other councillors worldwide.

Wearing a beautiful white dress and head ei, Tiraa spoke of the need for managing the actions of all in order for greater conservation.

“As the largest of the world’s oceans, the Pacific Ocean is vital to the survival of the entire world,” Tiraa told the assembly.

“However, it is under a number of significant threats from the impacts of climate change, and also the requirements of rapidly developing mega economies in other regions of the world for resources to fuel their growth.

“The rapid increase of invasive alien species in the Pacific Islands also presents a major threat to us. We in Oceania need to do our utmost to ensure this ocean and the islands contained within it are maintained in a state of excellent health.”

Tiraa also thanked outgoing Pacific Islands representative Robin Yarrow for all of the hard work he had done.

Meanwhile the motion created by Te Ipukarea Society and being represented by Teina Mackenzie is gaining traction ahead of the plenary.

“Having been working diligently on our motion, it goes to a contact group today before it is presented at plenary for vote, so trying to anticipate any possible opposition,” Mackenzie reported.

TIS has been actively involved in the congress even before it began after the organisation was invited to a meeting with marine networking group Big Ocean.

The Cook Islands joined representatives from the United States (Hawai’i and Washington) as well as Chile, Kiribati, New Zealand, Samoa, South Korea and the United Kingdom (UK).

Matiu Workman – Cook Islands News

Non-governmental environment group Te Ipukarea Society has presented Cook Islands News reporter Rachel Reeves with an award for her dogged “pursuit of the truth” in covering offshore fisheries issues.

Reeves, who has been an integral part of the CINews team since January 2010, has shown strong reporting skills in tackling the often-thorny issues surrounding the country’s fisheries.

Te Ipukarea Society (TIS) programme manager Jacqui Evans presented Reeves the “TIS award for persistent pursuit of the truth on Cook Islands fisheries” on Friday afternoon.

“We want to thank Rachel so much for all the wonderful coverage on offshore fisheries issues. She has constantly pushed for answers from [Marine Resources] Minister Teina Bishop and secretary Ben Ponia,” said Evans.

Reeves’ recent coverage of marine issues includes holding the ministry to task over the legality of fishing licences granted.

Evans believes comprehensive coverage of marine resources helps TIS and its cause.

People need to work collaboratively to pursue the truth, said Reeves in accepting her award.

“It’s scary stuff what’s happening in fisheries right now. To effect positive change the media, groups like TIS and people who care all have to work together.”

Calida Smylie – Cook Islands News

TIS Executive member Ana Tiraa was voted to the IUCN Global Council at the World Conservation Congress. Ana has worked in conservation in the Pacific region for more than 20 years.

“I believe that conservation is about managing people’s actions, and this is the key to achieving good outcomes,” says Ana in her speech in Jeju.
“As the largest of the world’s oceans, the Pacific Ocean is vital to the survival of the entire world.
However, it is under a number of significant threats from the impacts of climate change, and also the requirements of rapidly developing mega economies in other regions of the world for resources to fuel their growth. The rapid increase of Invasive Alien Species in the Pacific Islands also presents a major threat to us,” says Ana.

The role of Regional Councillors is to provide guidance on the overall development and implementation of the Union’s world-wide policies and programmes, provide input to the Council on the interests, priorities and needs of the IUCN Members in the Regions and act as IUCN’s ambassadors, working with the President and Director General to advance the interests and Mission of the Union and to promote its services within the Region.
Congratulations, Ana!

TIS met with Conservation International (CI) during CI’s visit to the Cook Islands in support of the Pacific Islands Leaders Forum Pacific Oceanscape initiative.

Luana Bosanquet-Heays of TIS joined CI staff, CEO Peter Seligmann as well as oceanographer and aquanaut Sylvia Earle on a tour with Nan Hauser in search of whales.
The TIS Executive Committee also met with CI during their stay on Rarotonga.

TIS is happy to have spent the time with Conservation International who have helped extensively with the groundwork for the Cook Islands Marine Park.

The new Cook Islands Marine Park was announced by the Cook Islands Prime Minister at the opening of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting last month. The Marine Park comprises the southern half of our Exclusive Economic Zone from 15 degrees south and encompasses one atoll and eight islands with fringing coral reefs. It also includes over 1 million km2 of deep ocean with a number of seamounts that may be significant in terms of biodiversity and/or abundance of marine life.

The legal designation of the Marine Park will follow island consultations, a legal analysis of existing legislation and a legislative process.

“The announcement is just the beginning of a long process to determine the zonation of activities in the Marine Park,” says Jacqui Evans of Te Ipukarea Society. “Where can certain activities occur in the area? Where will some activities be prohibited? How do we make marine protection effective?” says Jacqui.
A Marine Park Steering Committee, established and chaired by the Office of the Prime Minister, comprises government agencies, traditional leaders and Te Ipukarea Society. The committee will assist with the legal designation of the Marine Park and will help to address issues surrounding its management.

The Marine Park Steering Committee are currently putting together a national work plan and budget to guide what needs to be done over the next three years to make the Marine Park effective.

TIS representatives at the IUCN World Conservation Congress attended a workshop with Big Ocean: A network of the World’s Large Scale Marine Managed Areas last month.

Big Ocean is made up of member sites, represented by managers and partners, and provides support to other existing and proposed large-scale marine managed areas and site partners through peer-learning opportunities.

The workshop entitled “The Role of Partnerships and Size in Scaling Up Marine Protection Efforts Across the Globe,” was organized and hosted jointly by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Big Ocean, Conservation International and the New England Aquarium.
The aim of the workshop was to use discussions to inform and guide the development of practical management guidance on large-scale marine protected areas.

TIS Executive Member Teina MacKenzie attended a workshop in Fiji in August to learn about the geological, technical, biological and environmental aspects of deep sea minerals last month.
The workshop is part of the Deep Sea Minerals Project implemented by SPC and funded by the European Union.

During previous regional workshops and national stakeholder consultation meetings in the 15 Pacific Islands countries participating in the project, SPC learnt that the capacity to effectively regulate and facilitate meaningful participation of Pacific ACP States in the deep sea minerals industry is lacking.
Therefore this workshop was developed to enhance knowledge through:
(1) delivery of appropriate lecture materials; (2) showing videos and graphics related to each topic; (3) active participation and interactive discussions during the workshop; (4) short tests or exercises to gauge the level of knowledge of each participant; and (5) provision of relevant training materials to each participant (i.e. reports, handouts, power point presentations, and video clips).
Further workshops are expected to cover financial, environmental and social aspects of deep sea minerals.

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.

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