23 Jan 2007

Cook Islands government plans marine coral garden project

7:42 pm on 23 January 2007

The Cook Islands government is planning to establish a marine coral garden in a pilot project at the end of the year.

Reefs are often damaged by cyclones and fishermen but global warming also plays a part, and it is hoped that coral gardens will reverse the process and support the healthy growth of marine life.

A regional organisation restoring coral reefs is the Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific International and its manager, Dr Hugh Govan, says it is a good idea for the Cook Islands to establish coral gardens.

"The technology is very simple and relatively fool proof. The big problem is why the corals need restoring in the first place. If the corals died because of water pollution, overheating or disease, then those problems are likely to still exist. And if this haven't been taken into account, you may find that your planted corals will die sooner or later as well."

Dr Govan says the restoration process is cheap and can be learned by local communities.

He says it can take up to five years for the gardens to be fully established.