27 Sep 2012

Official denies Cook Islands most vulnerable to ocean acidification

6:12 am on 27 September 2012

A top official with the Cook Islands' government denies the Pacific state is the most vulnerable nation to rising acidic oceans in a new report on climate change.

A new study released by the international environmental group Oceana says the Cook Islands is facing an imminent food crisis as climate change and ocean acidification destroy their fisheries.

An author of the study, Matthew Huelsenbeck, says the Cook Islands doesn't have the capacity to deal with depleted stocks and is too dependent on its fisheries.

But the Cook Islands' Secretary of Marine Resources, Ben Ponia, says that's not correct.

"We already have a loss of reef fish because of ciguatera fish poisoning that's prevelant around Rarotonga. We've acclimatised ourselves to not being reliant on reef fish."

Ben Ponia says acidifcation has so far had no direct impact on its marine resources.

Kiribati and New Caledonia have also been named by the report as two of the top five nations most at risk from acidification.