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Ministry of Marine Ressources, Cook Islands

Dr Lara Ainley is a marine scientist with interests in applied science, marine resources, management and conservation. After completing a PhD in Marine Ecology in (Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia), Lara began working as Senior Marine Ecologist at the Ministry of Marine Resources in the Cook Islands.Here, Lara plays a leading role in developing and implementingmarine resource and coral reef monitoring and management activities.

The Cook Islands is comprised of 15 islands spread across 2 million square kilometres of ocean and approximately 13 degrees of latitude. Every island has significant coral reef habitat which plays a fundamental role in supporting biodiversity and local communities.

These habitats are particularly susceptible to the continued environmental degradation resulting from both human pressures and the impacts of climate change. I present an overview of coral reef habitat status and trends in the Cook Islands and discuss an appetite for targeted conservation-based research, habitat restoration and sustainable management programs in the Cook Islands.

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