A marine scientist in the Cook Islands says the government calling the state of Muri lagoon a national disaster could finally mean some real action on the issue.
The deputy prime minister Teariki Heather says high nitrogen levels and the spread of noxious seaweed in the lagoon is an emergency.
He says all commercial properties on the Muri foreshore that don't have compliant sewerage systems will be put on notice, and has assigned US$25,000 to help save the lagoon.
Steve Lyon, who runs Pacific Dive and is based at Muri, is also a marine scientist, and says there's no quick fix solution to the long-running issue.
"The real answer here lies in properly understanding the issue and moving forward sensibly rather than hoping that some quick fix solution is going to work. So with regards to being compliant, yes probably should be compliant with the law regarding septic systems, but whether they can actually become compliant and at what cost and if that will actually resolve the issue is a whole other question and no body is actually answering that one."