Marae Moana, is the world’s largest multi-use marine park. Located in the Cook Islands and spanning a total ocean area of nearly two million square kilometres, Marae Moana extends over the entire Exclusive Economic Zone.
This multi-use marine park is currently the largest commitment by a single country for integrated management and conservation from ridge to reef and from reef to ocean.
Marae Moana was legally designated on July 12th, 2017 by the Marae Moana Act 2017 and its primary purpose is to protect and conserve the ecological, biodiversity and heritage values of the Cook Islands marine environment.
Marae Moana promotes sustainable development by balancing economic growth interests such as tourism, fishing and deep-sea mining, with conserving core biodiversity and natural assets, in the ocean, reefs and islands and supported by SDG 14.
The Marae Moana Act 2017 established a Marae Moana Council which has nine members including the Prime Minister, the leader of the Parliamentary Opposition, the President of the formal body of traditional paramount chiefs known as the House of Ariki, representatives from the northern and southern islands in the Cook Islands as well as leaders in the private, religious and NGO sectors of Cook Islands society.
The large-scale marine park provides the protection to large areas of open ocean and the deep ocean and it also protects large areas that cover a species life cycle, including support for coastal traditional marine protected areas or marine reserves.
In 2020 the world committed to protecting 10% of the coastal and marine areas under the Convention of Biological Diversity to which the Cook Islands is a party to this convention and with the establishment under the Marae Moana Act 2017 of protected areas around all islands covering 16% of the islands Exclusive Economic Zone exceeding its target.
For more information, visit Marae Moana – Cook Islands Marine Park (conservation.org)
Photo Credit: Daniel Fisher