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Te Ipukarea Society Brochure 2017-18

A Marine Park meeting was held 9th February. The meeting shared information on Key Biodiversity Areas, Important Bird Areas and Ecologically and Biologically Significant Marine Areas. The meeting also developed a work plan that will be implemented until the declaration of the Marine Park at the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in August. There will also be a big meeting March 12-14 where international experts will present on how they can help. Park still does not include Northern EEZ where tuna long-liners fish.

It is obvious that the people of the Cook Islands are very concerned about possible overfishing of our tuna and associated impacts on other marine life and our environment. These concerns have been expressed in local media and at public meetings. Petitions were also signed in the northern group islands
TIS raised the issue of purse seine fishing at our National Economic Summit and through our campaign “Te Ki o to Tatou Moana ei Angai rai ia Tatou” (Our ocean of fish is for the sustenance and nourishment of our people). We note that government has not approved the issuance of licenses for exploratory purse seine fishing following the proposal by the Ministry of Marine Resources.

However, the government has approved the issuance of exploratory long-line fishing licenses. TIS members are deeply disappointed that the Ministry of Marine Resources has not responded to our questions regarding provisions to protect sharks, whether the trans-shipment of tuna is allowed and why there is only 5% observer coverage under the exploratory licenses issued.

MMR say the exploratory licences are so we can collect accurate data. This will not be possible under the lax conditions of these exploratory licences. We should be thinking more along the lines of the regional fisheries commission for Antarctic waters, which requires 2 observers on every boat with an exploratory fishing licence. That is the way to get reliable data.

We are also disappointed that the Ministry of Marine Resources has not called meetings with us, as agreed, to share information about measures to ensure fishing is done sustainably. We have learnt too, that under current legislation, exploratory fishing is exempt from many ordinary requirements to protect our marine life.

Fishing is important in the Pacific. It is as important as life itself. The world’s oceans are in crisis. With 70% of the fish stock depleted through over-exploitation, international fishing fleets have turned their attention to the Pacific as their source of fish either legally or illegally. Often it is our governments themselves who are the exploiters by accepting short term cash incentives and ignoring the long term catastrophic effects on our people and our ocean.

Local tuna fishermen, some who have fished in Rarotonga for over 30 years have reported a steady decline in the number and size of tuna caught around Rarotonga. Some fishermen report this problem in the other islands as well.

Because tuna caught in the Cook Islands makes up only a small percentage of the total catch in the Pacific region (MMR says this is only 0.3%) and because we license only 5% of long-liners licensed in the region, we acknowledge that a significant reason for the reported decline in catch is over-fishing outside the Cook Islands. However, we do believe that despite the Cook Islands relatively small contribution to the problem, we can also be a role model in sustainability. We cannot demand other countries to fish sustainably if we are not doing so ourselves.

Tuna is a migratory species and so its management is a regional concern, requiring collaboration between all countries in the Pacific. We would like to see more being done at both the national and regional level to manage this precious resource.

Mauke and Mangaia have been identfied as Key Biodiversity Areas.

TIS Programme Manager Jacqui Evans travelled to the two islands to raise awareness in the community about the importance, to the world of their unique and threatened species.

Jacqui travelled to Mangaia 30 November-2 December 2011, where the Island Secretary organised a meeting of the Island Council. “They were really interested in the fact that they had species of global significance,” says Jacqui. “They loved the photos of each species which came from the Cook Islands Natural Heritage database. These photos helped to stimulate discussion about where species were seen, what their local names were etc.” adds Jacqui.

Mangaia is also identified as an Important Bird Area because of it’s endemic Kingfisher, the Tanga’eo (Todramphus ruficollaris), the Cook Islands Warbler (Acrocephalus kerearako) and because the Bristle Thighed Curlew (Numenius tahitiensis) visits the island.

Mangaia is 5,200 hectares and is an upraised island with encircling limestone cliffs. Jacqui says the community was left to decide what they wanted to do about their island’s important status. “I told them that it is up to them if they want to do conservation work there, but we could help them if they wanted to go ahead. I left them to think about it.” says Jacqui.

Jacqui also travelled to Mauke 16-19 December 2011 where the Island Secretary and Mayor organised a community meeting.

Mangaia has nine terrestrial species of global importance and four marine species.

Mauke has six terrestrial species of global importance.

TIS work on IBAs and KBAs is supported by 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.

This is the Year of Waste so TIS plans to tackle some important infrastructure questions in the media this year. They are as follows:

Green Economics – a green economy is one that makes it cheaper to live in an environmentally friendly manner and makes it more expensive to degrade the environment. Some ways in which environmentally friendly behavior can be made cheaper is by partially or fully subsidizing green technology (e.g. solar hot water systems), offering low interest loans (e.g. a revolving fund for advanced sewage treatment systems), and keeping environmentally friendly products free from import levies. Conversely, products that are not good for the environment may be taxed. Our Society would like to see the gradual transition to a green economy.

Expenditure on Green Infrastructure – How much does government revenue increase each year and how does that compare with increases in government expenditure on recycling and green infrastructure? This question follows the Tourism Corporation’s announcement that it will adopt a policy to significantly increase visitor arrivals. Te Ipukarea Society has expressed concern that our infrastructure to deal with water, sewage, and solid waste is too far behind current rates of tourism growth to support a substantial increase in visitor arrivals. The counter-argument is that money is needed to put this infrastructure in place. We will question how the government can guarantee that increases in revenue generated by Tourism’s policy will be used to bring our infrastructure up to date.

Visitor Arrivals and The Environment – What number of visitors can we support annually over the next 15-20 years? We will take a look at the capacity of our current infrastructure and what is needed to improve this infrastructure over the next 15-20 years. We will also look at the water consumed and the sewage and solid waste produced under various visitor arrival scenarios.

Container Deposits and Advanced Disposal Fees – How can we make sure all recyclables get recycled and how do we make sure the government has the funds needed to send materials away for recycling? Container Deposits are deposits placed on containers such as glass bottles, aluminium cans, tins and plastic containers which are refunded when people take them back to the retailer. Advanced Disposal Fees are fees included in the purchase price of a good, which are used to pay for their recycling afterwards. We will enlighten the community about the advantages and disadvantages of these fees.

Alternative Development Indicators – What are we aiming to achieve as a society? Do we just want to get rich? Or do we want to be happy? The traditional method of measuring development progress is to use Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP measures economic growth by adding up the value of all goods and services produced within the country in say, a year. If GDP increases then we are considered to be doing well. The economy is growing and therefore it is assumed that everyone is happier this year, than last year. Is this an adequate measure of development progress? There are a variety of alternative development indicators that may be used and we will explore these.

A painting by Tom Burnett (NZ) illustrating the plight of the tuna stocks in the Pacific (1992)

It does make one wonder when on one hand the government is telling the world they are serious about “greening our economy”, and that we are going to be a Marine Park with our Whale Sanctuary and possibly Shark Sanctuary, yet on the other hand fishing deals with far reaching catastrophic effects are being signed with Distant Water Fishing Nations because of the bucks on offer.

We have the opportunity to show the world we are serious about creating effective sustainable development and to set in place carefully planned fishing management plans for local and overseas companies working within the framework of our whole EEZ being a Marine Park – a world’s first.

Let’s hope it’s not too late.

TIS is in dialogue with the Fishing Association and attends their meetings.

Did any of you see the doco “End of the Line” on TV earlier this month? It was amazing but scary as to what is happening in the Pacific.

TIS Member, Ana Tiraa has been appointed Director of the newly established Climate Change Department at the Office of the Prime Minister. Ana is a well-respected conservationist both locally and internationally.

With a background in natural resources management and climate change, Ana is a very suitable choice for this newly created position. It shows the Government is serious about Climate Change by appointing such a high profile Director. Ana has just returned from attending the COP 17 in Durban and will be a very strong advocate for the Cook Islands and the plight of the Pacific.

A Membership Strategy was created for TIS by one of our next generation members, Luana Bosanquet-Heays, who drew on her experience as a membership campaigner with Greenpeace, her international experience through attending COPs 15 and 16, and local experience having grown up here, as to what would be appropriate for the Cooks in formulating a workable plan.

The strategy includes:
1. Making some changes to membership policy,
2. Working in the Pa Enua (outer islands) to increase Pa Enua membership.
3. Raising the profile of TIS through Facebook, the development of a website and greater input into local media.
4. Developing a Peer Educator’s programme, hold fun and educational film nights and to increase youth membership
5. Employing a Youth Coordinator to implement a Change-Maker’s programme in the schools
6. Developing an internship placement programme
7. Introducing a visitor’s donation scheme in tourism properties
8. Involving corporate partners in TIS campaigns
9. Engaging community leaders to advertise membership drives.

The Strategy will be reviewed by the executive annually. Funding additional to TIS revenue will be needed to implement the strategy.The development of the strategy was made possible by the AAGE. V. Jensen Charity Foundation.

Jacqui Evans of TIS met with the Pacific Invasives Initiative team to seek assistance with the development of the restoration plan for Suwarrow National Park.

PII agreed to assist and are developing an MOU to outline the terms of the partnership. PII can provide training, technical advice and planning assistance from Project Selection to Sustaining the Project. This is very exciting as well as important work to carry out on Suwarrow. PII is based at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland.

The tender for suppliers of secondary treatment sanitation systems will be out soon. A Cabinet paper is being prepared on cost allocation (who pays for an upgrade and what percentage of the cost).

Criteria for identification of preferred systems are being developed. A draft contract has been developed between government and households to cover upgrades. Public awareness (Lots of awareness raised at the Vaka Eiva, a Communications Strategy is being prepared, as well a video story board on animal waste– TIS asked to have input in script).

Cost comparison for sanitation design is needed (on-site vs cluster vs centralised ring sewerage) and there will be a tender for this work. Ken will provide committee with criteria for tender. Ministry of Marine Resources are continuing with water quality monitoring. The IWRM project is continuing with testing of ecological sanitation systems, Southern Cross University, NSW, Australia is helping. Draft sanitation policy will be amended some more to incorporate committee’s comments.

In discussions prior to adopting the Strategic Plan, what should be our core focus naturally was on the table.

TIS has an excellent reputation for instigating and implementing worthwhile Biodiversity programmes which gives us credibility not just at home but both in the Pacific and internationally. However, there are times when as an environmental NGO we need to let the public know about certain plans that might be detrimental to our pa enua. The question is how far do we go – just raising awareness or having to create specific campaigns which may result in protesting?

We decided that each case was to be treated on an individual basis, working with those most affected eg fisherman with the Fisheries Campaign, with a focus on awareness via media, and public meetings, with protests as a last resort.

We have asked for copies of all EIA’s (Environmental Impact Assessments) from the National Environment Service, so we can provide an informed opinion for members and the general public on specific projects.

We are hopeful that with the Prime Minister as Minister for the Environment and his “green” policies that former and potential environmentally sensitive issues may be minimalized or not even considered. In order for this to happen effectively the new Investment Code as well as the revamped National Sustainable Development Plan need to give a clear indication that this country does care about conserving and managing effectively its natural resources for the benefit of future generations instead of exploiting and mismanaging the natural assets we have.

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