Marae Moana (Exclusion Zones) Marine Park
Cook Islands Marae Moana legislation passed (14 July 2017) Radio New Zealand
The Cook Islands parliament has now formally established its Marae Moana - one of the biggest marine reserve areas in the world.
The Marae Moana bill has now been passed into law and Prime Minister Henry Puna says it ensures the Cooks commitment to the world's largest integrated ocean management system.
He said it was the largest commitment by a single country - from ridge to reef, and from reef to ocean.
It has taken several years to reach this point but the Marae Moana Establishment Trust's Jacqui Evans said from here it will very quickly be put in place, "starting with the Marae Moana Council which is a very high level council that approves policy and then it also establishes a technical advisory group which puts together this policy and reports on progress of Marae Moana".
She said there is also a co-ordination office "that is established under the Office of the Prime Minister, which acts as a secretariat and does all the administrative work for the marine park".
Cook Islands made impression in New York (13 June 2017) Cook Islands News
"Home of Te Marae Moana, a marine park covering just under 2 million square kilometres, the Cook Islands showed how this country was displaying global leadership by committing its full ocean domain. It was announced the Marae Moana Bill will be tabled in Parliament next week, followed by the establishment of a Marae Moana coordination office.
The legislation and policy for the marine park were established after nationwide consultation consisting of five workshops and over 30 meetings.
A Marae Moana Action Plan is under development and will include contributions from all relevant government agencies, traditional leaders and non-government agencies.
These will be reviewed and evaluated by a technical advisory group and a new Marae Moana Council.
Agencies will also be required to align their policies and legislation with the overall principles of Marae Moana."
Cooks environmentalists delighted at 50 mile zone (24 Mar 2017)
Cook Islands environmentalists are delighted at the government's decision to establish 50 nautical mile exclusion zones around each island in the country.
The Cabinet this week unanimously backed the push by landowners and environmentalists to extend the zone to protect fish stocks.
Prime Minister Henry Puna said it was a vital move to ensure food security and preserve the ocean.
Environmental group Te Upukarea Society spokesperson Kelvin Passfield said they were very happy with the move.
"50 nautical miles means we have got a meaningful area of protection area around our islands now, and from the viewpoint of the Marae Moana Marine Park, I think we can now safely say that we honestly do have a marine park that means something," said Mr Passfield.
The Marae Moana Marine Park, a plan announced by Mr Puna several years ago, aims to manage the ocean sustainably.
It is projected to cover about two million square kilometres.
Crunch time for Marae Moana (13 Mar 2017) Cooks Islands News
"on Tuesday, March 14, the prime minister and five MPs who make up this powerful group of decision makers will be making a very important discussion.
These six individuals will decide what the size of the exclusion zones for foreign fishing boats in our Marae Moana Marine Park should be. We do hope the ministers have been provided, with the the information they need to help with their decision, and have read it.
As has been reported earlier, our prime minister has promised 50 nautical mile exclusion zones around all islands at several international meetings in recent years, including at US Secretary of State John Kerry’s State Department Ocean Conference, on June 17, 2014.
However, pressure from the Ministry of Marine Resources is apparently making him have second thoughts. And crunch time is approaching!
The Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) has been actively pushing for only 24 nautical miles exclusion zones. They also tell us they have consulted with the northern group about how big these no foreign fishing zones will be. However, we now know that in fact the people were told that the protection zones would be increased from 12 miles to 24 miles.
Options for larger zones were not discussed at all. Meanwhile, we believe some of the outer islands consulted recently by our traditional leaders in the southern group have said they prefer 100 nautical mile zones not 24, in order to protect their fishing livelihoods.
If the people of the Cook Islands want to have a say about the size of foreign fishing exclusion zones around our islands, now would be a good time to do so."
Marae Moana to cover all of Cooks' EEZ (15 Nov 2016) RadioNZ.co.nz
The Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna has told the UN climate change conference in Morocco that his country's marine reserve zone will now encompass its entire exclusive economic zone.
This will mean the Marae Moana sanctuary will span 1.8 million square kilometres, after initially being intended for the management of the EEZ's around the southern islands only.
A number of international agencies are offering support for Marae Moana, with Conservation International confirming it will be the Pacific region's flagship project for its Conservation Equity offshoot.
Mr Puna will also be speaking with other prospective sponsors during the COP22 in Morocco to seek help with the project which is expected to cost millions to implement.
The Cook Islands is now the largest multi-use marine park in the world (13 July 2017) Cook Island News
Marae Moana policy finally finished (3 March 2016) Cook Islands News
Cooks Opposition: PM Mislead UN Over Marine Park Claims (11 Jan 2016) Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai'i
Massive marine park for Cook Islands being finalized - July 21, 2015
from wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marae_Moana
Marae Moana is an ocean sanctuary created on July 13, 2017, when the Parliament of the Cook Islands passed a bill creating the largest ocean sanctuary in the world at the time of its passage.  Marae Moana covers the Cook Islands ' entire exclusive economic zone of over 1.9 million square kilometers or 735,000 square miles.  Kevin Iro, an environmentalist, first proposed the idea in 2012. Upon its passage, Iro said, "It's a historic time, particularly because everyone supported it, including our traditional leaders who spearheaded the whole thing." The bill had bipartisan support. The name of the marine park and its logo was created in 2014 by Bouchard Solomono, a student at Tereora College.  Some media speculated that this legislation was the most significant since the independence of the Cook Islands. 
Iro, who is a co-chair of the Marae Moana Establishment Trust, said this bill and marine park signifies “the sacredness of how Cook Islanders view our ocean space. It links us to our ancestors – it’s more than just the ocean.”
The legislation also creates multiple no-fishing zones within 50 nautical miles from each island.   Fishing and mineral exploration will still exist in the exclusive economic zone, but is to be done sustainably.
The Prime Minister, Henry Puna , said, “Socially, economically and spiritually we must all take care of it – and it is imperative that all those that live and exist both within and beyond its boundaries do recognise and respect its sanctuary,”. “We do not only recognise that the ocean brings us revenue in terms of fishery and tourism and potentially sea bed minerals – it also provides us with clean air, clean water, and clean food to nourish and sustain us.” “So this bill aims to sustain our livelihoods by protecting species and ecosystems as well as our cultural heritage that we inherit and pass on to future generations.” 
Iro was inspired to create this legislation from his experience with the islands and ocean and seeing environmental decay such as pollution and overfishing. "When I moved back here (from New Zealand) about 16 years ago I saw what was happening to the lagoons and reefs and really wanted to protect them for my kids," he said. "I want them to have the same experience I did as a boy growing up."