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The REAP report -- Our Beaches - Public, Private or Pay to Use?

The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Small Islands Voice Project believes the issue of free public access to the beach and the ocean is one of the most important issues facing small islands.

Across the oceans, small islands' push for development often gives way to private hotel developers and wealthy homeowners suddenly declaring the beach fronting their property as now private. This often results in the public being denied the use of once public beach area and in some cases, being denied even access to the beach through a simple footpath.

In other cases, government entities often feel that they should take control of and manage public beaches. This often results in the public, the people, now having to pay a fee to government whenever they want to go to the beach, be it for a leisurely stroll, a family picnic, a cool swim or fishing.

The Environment Service, in a recent response on this issue sent to the Cook Islands News states that "government may need to step in and impose severe restrictions on both locals and tourists/visitors alike."

Local Cook Island residents pay taxes, be they income or VAT, and visitors spend money including VAT of 12 % to government on all purchases of goods. Additionally there is a $5.00 fee for environment protection included in the airline departure tax. Shouldn't some of these monies be used to maintain and protect our beaches and our lagoons?

Yes, we who use the beach also have a responsibility to keep our beaches clean and litter free and everyone has the responsibility not to pollute our lagoons.

The issue of "Beach Access -- Public or Private? Public or Pay?" will not go away.

The Environment Service says, "it may be time for them to step in and take control of our beaches."

REAP believes Cook Island beaches belong to the people and that access and use of the beaches and the ocean should be FREE and remain open for everyone to enjoy.

What do you think? UNESCO, Cook Islands Small Islands Voice and Cook Islands News would like to know your views.

Cook Island News, 13 January 2003


To get involved, contact :


Ms. Imogen Ingram
Island Sustainability Alliance (C.I.) Inc.
P.O. Box 492
Rarotonga, Cook Islands
T 682 22128, 682 58289 (m)
F 682 22128

Ms. Jacqui Evans
Taporoporoanga Ipukarea Society
P.O. Box 796
Rarotonga, Cook Islands
T 682 29110 (w) 682 55050 (m)

Ms. Gail Townsend and Ms Jane Taurarii
Curriculum Development Unit
Ministry of Education
P.O. Box 97,
Nikao, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
T 682 25270 F 682 28357


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