A press release from the Seabed Minerals Authority yesterday said Brown led the public meetings, along with Marae Moana “ambassador” Kevin Iro and his team of officials.
One of the recurring themes that has come out of the public consultations meetings is the need to ensure the protection of our ocean and the need for more knowledge on the potential impact of the environment from any seabed minerals activity - at exploration first, and then future possible phase of harvesting our national manganese nodule resource,” the release said.
“Members of the public (also) wanted to know how independent environmental studies could be included as part of the exploration phase to ensure verifiable findings from exploration activities.”
The release said valuable consultation with the Opposition had taken place recently, as the government acknowledged the importance of bipartisan support for the strategy and plan for the Cook Islands seabed minerals sector.
“Meetings were also held with the House of Ariki to provide awareness of the proposed exploration to be conducted. Consultations will also take place with Marae Moana, Koutu Nui, the Religious Advisory Council (RAC) and our local environmental NGOs. Public consultations will continue across the southern group and northern group Pa Enua over the next few months.
As discussed at the public consultations, a draft Seabed Minerals Bill will be available for viewing by December, with the public (given) opportunities to provide feedback on the bill.”
Said Brown: “The majority of the public have shown support for the proposed first steps for more exploration of our minerals.
“They have asked for more detail on a few matters, which we will be sharing in the coming weeks, including the proposed amendments to the Seabed Minerals Act.”
The draft Cook Islands Seabed Minerals Sector Strategy had also been presented to industry members interested in the exploration tender process, the press release added.
A workshop for potential and interested exploration applicants is being held on Rarotonga this week to allow government agencies and industry members to discuss the tender process. An environmental non-government organisation (NGO) forum has also been scheduled this week to give vested interest groups and NGOs the opportunity to raise questions and seek more detail.
“I look forward to the continued dialogue with the public,” said Brown. “As I have stated previously, developing our national seabed minerals sector is important as it could provide positive transformational change for our Cook Islands people and our community.”