Cook Islands

Dec. 18/12

A Kiwi man's dream to establish a shark sanctuary the size of Mexico has been realised in the Cook Islands.

On December 12, the Cook Islands declared its 1997 million square kilometre Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) a sanctuary for sharks and rays - the largest in the world and with the toughest shark conservation regulations to date.

The sanctuary is the product of an 18-month grassroots campaign led by Auckland-born Stephen Lyon, a marine scientist and founder of the Rarotonga-based NGO the Pacific Islands Conservation Initiative (PICI).

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Aug. 30/12

The Cook Islands announced the creation of the world’s largest marine park at the opening of the Pacific Islands Forum on Tuesday, a vast swathe of ocean almost twice the size of France.

Prime Minister Henry Puna said the 1.065 million square kilometre (411,000 square mile) reserve “(is) the largest area in history by a single country for integrated ocean conservation and management”.

Puna said protecting the Pacific, one of the last pristine marine ecosystems, was the Cooks’ major contribution “to the well-being of not only our peoples, but also of humanity”.

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Dec. 03/11

Auckland-born marine scientist Stephen Lyon is an unlikely candidate for the job of creating the world's largest shark sanctuary - he has had a crippling fear of sharks since age 5.

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