Marae Moana (Cook Islands Marine Park)

Established:  August 2012
Location:  Situated between 9 degrees and 22 degrees south latitude
Size:  1.065 million km2  or 411,000 mi2
Website:  http://www.pmoffice.gov.ck

In August 2012, Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna announced the establishment of a 1,065,000 square kilometer multiple use marine park that will “provide the necessary framework to promote sustainable development by balancing economic growth interests … with conserving core biodiversity and natural assets, in the ocean, reefs and islands.”  The Cook Islands commitment is the largest in history by a single country for integrated ocean conservation and management.  The area includes remote atolls and high volcanic islands surrounded by fringing reefs and unspoiled fauna associated with underwater mountains.  It also hosts rich Pacific marine biodiversity, including rare seabirds, blue whales, manta rays and several shark species, a number of which are listed as threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Marae Moana is currently the largest commitment to the Pacific Oceanscape, an innovative initiative led by the Pacific Island nations, including New Zealand, to foster integrated marine conservation and sustainable oceans management across approximately 40 million sq km of ocean – over seven percent of the Earth’s surface.  Similar to the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in Kiribati, Marae Moana will contain a variety of zones with different levels of protection, including area where all fishing will be banned, and buffer areas where tourism and carefully monitored fishing will be allowed.