Floating isle off Tahiti seeks Pacific residents

6:32 am on 28 December 2017

The creators of a man-made floating island off Tahiti say they want a quarter of its population to be made up of Polynesian people.

The company Blue Frontiers has released more details of its plan to build environmentally friendly floating platforms within the lagoon for people to live on and work on new technologies.

It's working with the French Polynesian government on the project which is expected to be a special economic zone at sea about the size of a soccer field, housing up to 250 people.

One of the company's founders, Marc Collins, said 25 percent of the places would be opened up to Polynesians from other islands in the region to counter accusations it might just be an enclave for wealthy foreigners.

"It's more about finding young Polynesians who are interested in the issues around sea level rise, around entrepreneurship, technology start-ups. The idea is that they wouldn't be coming on to the platform, onto the pilot as employees of the project or just as staff of a hotel, that's not at all the objective."

Mr Collins said Blue Frontiers had identified four potential areas on the south side of Tahiti for the project.

A concept for the floating island project in French Polynesia

A concept for the floating island project in French Polynesia Photo: Supplied

He said the remainder of the floating community's population would be an international mix of people including those from Singapore, Japan, France, and the United States.

"All of them would be focused on the sea level rise issue as well as other types of blue tech. So anything related to ocean, energy, food production, water."

He said he was anticipating the regulatory framework for the community to go through the territorial assembly next month and engineering work and work on attracting investors to start in February.

Mr Collins said they were looking to raise about US$50 to 60 million to build the pilot which is planned for one kilometre off the Tahiti coast.

He said designs were still being worked on but the structures were expected to have minimal visual impact from the shore and the least impact possible on marine life.

"The depth is very important so that the cast shadow of the floating pilot island does not cause any issues with photosynthesis with corals, with fish or algaes."

"We feel we've convinced the government and a lot of the population there's a real opportunity to work together to improve the lagoon."

Mr Collins said first figures show living there would be "affordable" and might cost about the same as an apartment in Papeete.

He said Blue Frontiers was still in talks with the French Polynesian government about creating a special regulatory environment for the project which is aimed at attracting investment and talent.

Mr Collins said he hoped to announce the project's exact location within one to two months.

"It is a world first and I think we'll be able to learn a tremendous amount of things from the project."

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