23 Dec 2015

Cooks' Muri Lagoon work at a standstill

3:38 pm on 23 December 2015

The murky green algae blanketing the floor of a major tourist attraction in the Cooks Islands is set to stay put over the Christmas period.

Plans to improve water flow in Muri Lagoon off Rarotonga are not expected to be released until the New Year.

At a recent Ngatangiia community meeting, a steering group was formed to review proposals of remedial work in the lagoon and produce Environmental Impact Assessment reports.

Technical specialists are to meet to look at removing the Aroko fish trap which stretches across the width of the lagoon between Muri lagoon and Avana.

A member of the steering committee Jamie Short says a report will be completed by the second week of January.

Dark patches of algae spreading in Muri lagoon.

Dark patches of algae spreading in Muri lagoon. Photo: RNZI/Varo Media

The National Environment Service director Joseph Brider says his department is treating the EIA application with as much urgency as the law allows.

"The EIA is being prepared by the community group and I am sure they are working as quickly as they can. Once the community submit the EIA to NES, we will take it through the review process before advertising for 30 days to the general public," he said.

"Following that, if the EIA has satisfied public expectations, it will be submitted to the Rarotonga Environment Authority for their consideration."

The Cook Islands News has received reports of tourists hesitant to swim in the lagoon and complaining of lack of visibility when they snorkel.

Members of the steering group include Teina Rongo, a marine scientist Jacquie Evans, Jamie Short of the Ministry of Infrastructure and a local authority on Rarotonga lagoons and foreshores Don Dorrell.

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