For somebody who’d just been fired from a prestigious government post, Jacqueline Evans sounded remarkably upbeat. “I knew it was going to come,” she laughed during a phone interview with Mongabay. “I was surprised about what I was being sacked over, though: it was essentially just giving my opinion.”
On Sept. 20 Evans was dismissed from her position as director of the Cook Islands’ world-renowned Marae Moana marine protected area (MPA), a position she’d held since the MPA was enshrined into law in 2017. Evans, a marine scientist and 2019 winner of the prestigious international Goldman Prize for grassroots environmentalists, played a key leadership role in the seven-year campaign to establish Marae Moana, the biggest mixed-use MPA in the world at nearly 2 million square kilometers (772,200 square miles).