7 September 2018
The Ministry of Marine Resources (Tu’anga o te Pae Moana) has completed a preliminary investigation into the sudden death of giant clams (pa’ua) in the Tikioki eco-tourism area reported last week.
After reports from Koka Lagoon Cruises of the suspicious discovery of over a dozen empty pa’ua shells within the eco-tourism area, a visual assessment was conducted by Marine Scientists Kirby Morejohn and James Kora, and Senior Marine Ecologist Dr Lara Ainley.
It had been assumed that for such numbers of pa’ua shells to be found empty in a short span of time, it was possible that a deliberate act of sabotage or poaching may have taken place.
According to Morejohn, “From our findings we cannot conclude whether or not this was an act of deliberate sabotage or harvest. Other factors such as high levels of algal cover or predation by other organisms may also be to blame. Though, for so many clams to die in such a short amount of time remains a mystery.”
“MMR is working with the House of Ariki and Aronga Mana to determine what protective measures may exist in the area, but the public should know that the pa’ua there are for the enjoyment of lagoon visitors and should not be harvested,” said Morejohn.
The team determined that overall, the remaining pa’ua in the area are healthy.
The Ministry has provided key recommendations to the tour company for ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the lagoon eco-tourism area.
Director of Inshore & Aquaculture Kori Raumea confirms that MMR will continue to provide technical assistance to lagoon operators on Rarotonga and Aitutaki. – ENDS