In the island of Aitutaki, Cook Islands, efforts are underway to reverse the major declines in important marine resources caused by a combination of climate-driven and human-derived stressors.
Livelihoods in the outer islands are closely tied to the natural environment and fisheries resources are the most important source of food security and income. Coral reefs provide critical habitat for many marine organisms and recent research indicates that coral cover in Aitutaki is very low.
The Aitutaki Marine Research Centre (AMRC) was opened in 1991. Since then, three species from Palau and Australia were introduced, Tridacna gigas, Tridacna derasa, and Hippopus hippopus. Besides these introduced species, the hatchery has also been successful in reproducing Cook Island’s native species, Tridacna maxima.
Since 2019, the European Union funded Global Climate Change Alliance Plus - Scaling up Pacific Adaptation (GCCA+ SUPA) project is working closely with communities and the Cook Islands government to adopt a people-centred approach to strengthen data collection, reporting and adaptive management within the marine sector and improve the understanding of climate-related issues and the impacts on the marine environment.
The GCCA+ SUPA project is about scaling up climate change adaptation measures in specific sectors supported by knowledge management and capacity building. The 4.5 year project (2019-2023) is funded with € 14.89 million from the European Union (EU) and implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and The University of the South Pacific (USP), in collaboration with the governments and peoples of Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Tonga and Tuvalu.