8 Sep 2011

Cook Islands sets up huge marine reserve

1:51 pm on 8 September 2011

The Cook Islands has announced the establishment of a marine protected area extending over a million square kilometres in the southern part of the country.

The prime minister Henry Puna made the announcement on Wednesday night during the first anniversary of the setting up of the Pacific Oceanscape.

The Oceanscape aims to create a framework for the integrated, sustainable management of the Pacific.

A former rugby league great, Kevin Iro, has been one of those pushing for the Cook Islands zone to be set up.

He says it's about sustainability.

"We'll probably look at a model much the same as the Great Barrier Reef, you know, where there's zones for different activities. Tourism's also the major driver in our economy and so we have got to take that into account as well. We don't want to shut everything out but at the same time we want to be sure that future generations of Cook Islanders can enjoy the sea as much as our forefathers have."