On Tuesday 28 August, the Cook Islands announced the establishment of what is set to be the world's largest marine park, covering the southern half of the island nation's waters.
The initiative will not only benefit the environment but also the small nation's economy. Marea Hatziolos, the World Bank's senior coastal and marine specialist, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the park would include areas where all fishing is banned, alongside other zones allowing tourism and carefully monitored fishing.
She said the move would allow species important to the island's economy - such as tuna - to regenerate, as well as encouraging tourism in the area. The Islands will hope to profit from eco-tourism, one of the latest holiday crazes. Travellers choose to visit environmentally threatened, or relatively undisturbed natural areas as a low impact alternative to mass tourism and to learn about the local biodiversity.
Prime Minister Henry Puna announced that "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."
The Cook Islands are one in a long line of countries announcing the creation of marine parks, with Australia, Kiribati, Tokelau and New Caledonia all creating similar parks for the conservation of sea life.
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