United Nations
Marae Moana - Cook Islands Marine Park
by Cook Islands Government (Government)
The Cook Islands – a nation state in the South Pacific is dedicating its entire Exclusive Economic Zone, Marae Moana, an area of 1.9 million square kilometres (550,000 square nautical miles) to protection, conservation and integrated management.

This 'whole domain approach' will ensure the protection of the marine environment whilst providing for sustainable development activities including tourism and fisheries. With one of the largest deposits of manganese nodules in the world, the Cook Islands is facing the challenge to protect the marine environment as a priority whilst determining ecologically sustainable methods to harvest seabed minerals on the seafloor.

As a start, sixteen percent of Marae Moana, an area of 324,000 square kilometres (95,000 square nautical miles) is being established as marine protected areas where no large scale commercial fishing or seabed minerals activities will be permitted.

A Marae Moana Council is being established through new legislation to oversee the management of the marine space including the review of policy, marine spatial plans, reporting, monitoring and evaluation. The Marae Moana policy principles include protection, conservation and restoration, sustainable use to maximise benefits, the precautionary principle, community participation, cultural significance, transparency and accountability, integrated management, fostering a culture of investigation and research, ecosystem-based management and sustainable financing.
Progress reports
By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
Type of commitment
  • Fertilizer use efficiency
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Manure management
  • Nutrient sinks (e.g. constructed wetlands)
  • Plastics product bans or restrictions
  • Plastics recovery/recycling/reuse
  • Reduce invasive aquatic species introduction
  • Management of ship-based pollution and/or port waste management
OTHER POLLUTANTS (please specify)
  • Integrated pest management
By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
Type of commitment
  • Community or Locally Managed Marine Areas
  • Integrated Coastal Management
  • Marine Spatial Planning
  • Large Marine Ecosystem approach
  • Ecosystem-based Adaptation
By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
Type of commitment
  • Compliance, monitoring and enforcement
  • Science-based fisheries management plans
  • Ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF)
  • Reduction of fisheries by-catch and product waste/losses
By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information
Type of commitment
  • No take marine protected area
  • Marine protected area with partial protection
  • Multiple use marine protected area
  • Locally or community managed marine areas
  • MPA management and/or enforcement
By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism
Type of commitment
  • Economic benefits from sustainable fisheries
  • Economic benefits from sustainable tourism
  • Economic benefits from sustainable aquaculture/mariculture
  • Economic benefits from sustainable transport
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
  • Scientific, socioeconomic and interdisciplinary research
  • Research capacity development
  • Data access and sharing
  • Training and professional development
  • Scientific cooperation
  • Transfer marine technology
  • Actions that support SIDS and LDCs
Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets
Type of commitment
  • Legal/policy/institutional measures
  • Access to market-based instruments
  • Transfer of fishing technology
  • Access to coastal fishing grounds
  • Community empowerment for fisheries management
Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want
Type of commitment
  • Activities to raise awareness of the comprehensive legal and policy framework for the sustainable development of oceans and seas, in particular UNCLOS, its Implementing Agreements and other relevant ocean-related instruments and promote their effective im
  • Strengthening ocean governance, for example through the development of a national ocean policy or regional ocean policy
  • Development of necessary infrastructure and/or enforcement capabilities to comply with international law, as reflected in UNCLOS and as complemented by other ocean-related instruments
December 2020
National Marae Moana Spatial Plan
June 2017
Marae Moana legislation
June 2026
Marae Moana Outlook Report
May 2020
Marae Moana Policy Review
In-kind contribution
Financing (in USD)
5,000,000 USD
Basic information
Time-frame: August 2012 - August 2036
Oceans 5, Conservation International, UNDP-GEF, IUCN, FFA, SPC, SPREP, Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner
Ocean Basins
  • South Pacific
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Contact information
Jacqueline Evans, Marae Moana Director, jacqui.evans@cookislands.gov.ck, +68272650
Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Other SDGs
United Nations