23 Jan 2007

Cook Islands plans to establish a marine coral garden

2:55 pm on 23 January 2007

The Cook Islands government is planning to establish a marine coral garden in a pilot project to boost tourism.

The ministry of fisheries says it is planning to grow local corals, including many that are disappearing from the area, and re-plant them into the sea.

The acting director for aquaculture at the ministry, Kori Raumea, says if the pilot project is successful, it will establish the coral gardens on a larger scale at private resorts and hotels.

Mr Raumea says the gardens will attract tourists because of better diving and snorkeling possibilities.

"We don't see the corals that used to be there before. We need to bring that back, especially for tourism in the Cooks."

Mr Raumea says many hotels have expressed their interest and the pilot project could start at the end of this year.