22 Jun 2009

Cook Islands tourism said to be threatened by pollution

11:32 am on 22 June 2009

The Chairman of Takitumu Lagoon Committee in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands says the country's tourism industry could be jeopardised if progress is not urgently made in reducing pollution in its lagoons.

Teariki Matenga's comments come after a call by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community for its members to urgently step up measures to combat land degradation and desertification.

Mr Matenga says the community at large and the government must monitor chemicals seeping into its lagoons.

"There's excessive algae which is very evident at this stage. We have corals which are dying, which have contributions from various causes, bearing in mind the global warming issues. Now when these algaes smother all these corals, you know nice looking corals that we have in the lagoons, it denies them exposure to sunlight and therefore killing them."

Teariki Matenga says continual damage to the coral could affect the tourism industry, through fewer visitors to the lagoons.