During the opening of the Pacific Island Leaders Forum this week; Cook Island's Prime Minister announced the creation of the Worlds Largest Marine Park that will protect a piece of the Ocean that's almost twice the size of France.
Prime Minister Henry Puna said the 1.065 million square kilometre (411,000 square mile) reserve “(is) the largest area in history by a single country for integrated ocean conservation and management”.
Puna said protecting the Pacific, one of the last pristine marine ecosystems, was the Cooks’ major contribution “to the well-being of not only our peoples, but also of humanity”.
“The marine park will provide the necessary framework to promote sustainable development by balancing economic growth interests such as tourism, fishing and deep sea mining with conserving core biodiversity in the ocean,” he said.
This Marine Park could be the first of many in the Pacific region
Marea Hatziolos, the World Bank’s senior coastal and marine specialist, said the Cook Islands’ initiative was a win for both the environment and the country’s economy.
“There’s definitely an economic dimension to this, apart from protecting biodiversity,” she told AFP. “It allows small Pacific nations to generate revenue.”
She said the park would include a core area where all fishing was banned, as well as special zones where tourism and carefully monitored fishing were permitted, allowing commercially valuable species such as tuna to regenerate.
New Zealand Rugby League star Kevin Iro created the project
Kevin Iro is the brainchild behind the creation of the largest marine protected area in the Pacific, which is raising the bar for marine conservation efforts across the globe.
This Marine Park is three times the size of the Great Barrier Reef and roughly 0.03% of the ocean. With mixed Zero Take and controlled fishing areas they're looking to create a sustainable environment that still generates revenue through tourism and other initiatives
Read the full story about Kevin Iro here
There is a big drive to utilise social networks to build a community, create awareness and develop new applications to connect people with the ocean and especially new marine parks. We'll keep you posted as more details come to hand about the Cook Island's Marine Park.