The Pacific Conference of Churches has called for Parliament to reject changes to the seabed minerals legislation.
Churches general secretary Reverend James Bhagwan said the Pacific churches also reiterated their call for a ban on seabed mining, as Cook Islands parliament prepares to review its legislation.
He asked Cook Islands to take the lead and ban seabed mining, and the testing and development of any associated machinery, equipment, and methods.
Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown said Cook Islands Government had looked carefully into the development of its seabed minerals sector.
“We have weighed up how this fits in with our sustainable developments goals, considering the environmental, social and economic considerations.”
They had consulted with people on all the islands about the ocean wealth and had numerous consultations with vested interest groups.
There was overwhelming support from all sectors to explore our ocean for more knowledge, data and information, he said, to make the most informed decisions related to harvesting the minerals and improving the lives of Cook Islands people.
As stewards of the country, they had listened to the people and made the decision to develop the seabed minerals sector.
“The ocean has always supported us, and we will not do anything to impact its ability to continue to support our Pacific way of life,” Brown said.
“We will accept the church members of Pacific Conference of Churches prayers for the prosperity of our Cook Islands people.
“Government will not allow the commercial recovery of our nodules unless we are satisfied that there is sufficient information on how to address and minimise any potential environmental impacts.”
The Seabed Minerals Amendment Bill 2020 was scheduled to be tabled in Parliament last week, when the Te Ipukarea Society, Kōrero O Te `Ōrau and others requested it be referred to a select committee.
Instead, Brown allowed a week’s opportunity for public input.
This week, the the Runanga Takere Moana seabed mineral authority presented the amendment bill at the New Hope Hall in Tutakimoa.
Commissioner Alex Herman said Bishop Tutai Pere attended the public consultation as a member of the Cook Islands Religious Advisory Council, and reaffirmed the council’s support for Cook Islands development of its seabed minerals.
But Bhagwan said their member church and civil society orgnisations in Cook Islands had raised concern over the discretionary powers proposed for the minister, under the Seabed Minerals (Amendment) Bill 2020.
“The Te Ipukarea Society, Korero o te Orau and environmental advocates have urged the withdrawal of the bill in its current form,” he said.
Herman said the Bill did not propose any changes to the Ministers powers. It was a robust piece of legislation, with checks and balances throughout to ensure strong governance and management of our seabed minerals.
The Bill is available at