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Creation of the Worlds Largest Marine Park


For immediate release

IUCN Supports Cook Islands To Create The World’s Largest Marine Park

Gland, Switzerland, 15 November 2012 – IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Government of the Cook Islands to support the establishment of the world’s largest marine protected area – the Cook Islands Marine Park.

The park will contribute to conserving the region’s marine biodiversity, boosting local economic growth and preserving the health of the ocean globally.

This is a landmark decision and should be treated as an example to follow by countries around the world,” says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director of IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Programme. “With just over 2% of the world’s ocean currently protected, this is a major step towards safeguarding our planet’s marine realm and the priceless services it provides us, including oxygen, food and water.”

The agreement follows the Cook Islands’ announcement of the creation of the park in August 2012.

The Cook Islands Marine Park covers 1.065 million square kilometres (411,000 square miles) - an area more than twice the size of Papua New Guinea. It is the largest marine park ever declared by a single country for integrated ocean conservation and management. The area includes remote atolls, high volcanic islands surrounded by fringing reefs and unspoilt 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™.

“Protecting the Pacific, one of the last pristine marine ecosystems, is the Cooks’ major contribution to the well-being of not only our peoples but of humanity in general,” says Henry Puna, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands. “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 biodiversity in the ocean.”

Similarly to the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in Kiribati, the Cook Islands Marine Park will contain a variety of zones with different levels of protection, including areas where all fishing will be banned, and buffer areas where tourism and carefully monitored fishing will be allowed.

The creation of the park will involve identifying where and how the area is being used, what natural resources and habitats it hosts and how they can be used sustainably. The IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas will also provide assistance to link the rights that local people have traditionally enjoyed in relation to the park’s natural resources with existing legislation, integrating the traditional methods of managing the area into innovative large-scale marine conservation initiatives. This should foster community ownership of marine conservation areas and support scientific and policy research by national and regional institutions, according to IUCN.

Thanks to initiatives like this one, small island nations such as the Cook Islands and Kiribati are beginning to confidently act as ‘large ocean developing states’, leading the way to conserve large areas of national Exclusive Economic Zones in the Pacific Ocean – places where the state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources,” says Jan Steffen, IUCN Oceania Regional Marine Programme Coordinator.

IUCN’s involvement in the establishment of the Cook Islands Marine Park will be financially supported by Global Blue – a traveller service-related company headquartered in Switzerland. Other conservation partners that signed the memorandum of understanding with the Government of the Cook Islands include the South Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Conservation International and the Marine Science Institute of the University of California Santa Barbara.

Interview partners:
Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director of IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Programme
Jan Steffen, IUCN Oceania Regional Marine Programme Coordinator


About IUCN

IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges by supporting scientific research, managing field projects all over the world and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN, international conventions and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.

The world's oldest and largest global environmental network, IUCN is a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists and experts in some 160 countries. IUCN's work is supported by over 1,000 professional staff in 60 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. IUCN's headquarters are located in Gland, near Geneva, in Switzerland.
www.iucn.org

About Global Blue

Global Blue are experts on foreign travellers’ shopping and spending that make retail transactions between merchants and their foreign customers easier and more rewarding for everyone. Having introduced the concept of Tax Free Shopping thirty years ago, Global Blue now offers a wide range of services that help consumers shop and spend wisely when they are in foreign countries, and merchants and banks increase their revenues from the lucrative traveller market.

Global Blue works with over 270,000 of the world’s favourite retailers, shopping brands and hotels in over 40 countries and serves in excess of 60,000 travellers each and every day. The company’s ambition is to become the beacon for international shopping and spending across the globe.

Global Blue’s headquarters are in Nyon, close to Geneva, Switzerland. More information about Global Blue is available at www.global-blue.com

www.iucn.org

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