Successive Cook Islands Governments have long considered the marine resources of the Cook Islands a priority for development. This was demonstrated by the formation of a Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) in 1984. It was the first government ministry in the Pacific Islands region solely dedicated to the fisheries sector, with most other countries' fisheries coming under the control of the Ministry responsible for agriculture.
MMR is managed by a Secretary. It is headquartered at Rarotonga, but also maintains Fisheries Officers (FOs) on the islands of Aitutaki, Atiu, Mangaia, Manihiki, Mauke, Mitiaro, Nassau, Palmerston, Penrhyn, Pukapuka and Rakahanga. It employs Observers based in Apia, Samoa and New Zealand; and two staff at a Field Office in Pago Pago, American Samoa. The Ministry operates a pearl oyster hatchery at Penrhyn, a giant clam and trochus hatchery at Aitutaki, a marine laboratory at Manihiki and a Chemistry and Micro-biology Laboratory at Rarotonga.
The Ministry has structured itself along Outputs which are linked to a respective divisional work programme and which focuses on the development and management for the sub-sectors of the marine sector (Offshore Fisheries; Pearl Support and Inshore Fisheries and Aquaculture); policy and legislation and Corporate Services.
As at 30 June 2016, the Ministry employs 61 staff in total; this includes 49 full time staff, 5 part-time and 7 service providers. Its total appropriation as at 30 June 2016 was $1,538,276.