HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 577: 17 August 2011

Manihiki lagoon murky for last two months
For the past two months the lagoon in Manihiki has been murky and it’s got major black pearl farmer Rangi Mitaera-Johnson and her husband Matai worried.
Rangi told the Herald on Tuesday the murkiness usually lasted two to three days but this time it has persisted and it’s difficult to see underwater. She said the cause was most likely weather conditions.
Rangi and her family have been on Rarotonga as part of the Manihiki group attending Te Maeva Nui and returns to Manihiki by the Samoan Ferry Lady Naomi Tuesday afternoon. During her visit she and her husband have attended the Trade Days and also the recent pearl forum.
She said the next twelve months will be crucial for the industry financially and she predicts some will leave the industry. She said the number of farmers may drop to as low as five or six.
Rangi’s view was that the recent pearl forum organized by the Cook Islands Pearl Authority –CIPA-did not fully resolve several important issues to do with for example, branding, quality and marketing.
There is still some industry resistance to the brand “Avaiki.” Those opting not to seek accreditation to use the brand name are asking how they will be affected given their product may be just as good. She is concerned that CIPA does not employ a marketing specialist. Farmer’s livelihood depend on sales and without effective marketing, incomes will be affected. Her view is farmer’s incomes will remain vulnerable while CIPA continues the implementation of its programmes at the pace it has adopted. Her worry is the progress being made by the Chinese and how this will impact on the Cook Islands.
On returning to Manihiki she says seeding and harvesting will be the main concerns. The Ministry is also in the process of remapping the lagoon as part of relicensing and determining the area taken up by farmers.
Due to the murkiness of the lagoon, she said no remapping is taking place.

-Charles Pitt

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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