Prime Minister Mark Brown with New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta during her Cook Islands visit last month. 22101317
As the New Zealand government moves towards a moratorium on deep sea mining in international waters, Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown claims both governments are actually after the same thing. Matthew Littlewood and Caleb Fotheringham report.
Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta confirmed in Parliament last week that
her government would support a conditional moratorium on the emerging mining
practice, seeking a ban on seabed mining in international waters “until strong
environmental rules can be agreed”.
The move prompted
the Cook Islands Seabed Minerals Authority to express “concern” about New
Zealand’s stance, saying that calls for a moratorium “may further distract from
the efforts to progress the work of the International Seabed Authority”.
Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown did not appear concerned by the New Zealand
for a conditional moratorium on international waters until proper regulations
are in place in the international waters, so essentially we’re calling for the
same thing to happen, good regulations in place for harvesting or the
extraction before any exploitation takes place,” PM Brown told Cook Islands
that we have already good regulations in place for exploration, we’re in the
process of passing our regulations for exploration, also mindful that New
Zealand was very careful in their call that the moratorium should only take place
in the international areas and not impose on the sovereign rights or other
jurisdictions of sovereign independent states.
“At the end of the
day we’re after the same thing, being able to sensibly, sustainably exploit the
resources that we have in our oceans without causing damage to our ocean, that’s
what we’re after."
However Te Ipukarea Society
conservation advocate Alanna Smith said much more time is needed for research
before a decision to mine is made.
However Smith said they cannot rely
only on the mining companies to do that research.
“Much less research has been done in
our waters than has been done in the international waters that are being
explored for possible mining. We need a lot more time, and independent
research. We cannot rely only on the mining companies to do that research,”
“Te Ipukarea Society has made a
submission on the Cook Islands Environment regulations for exploitation. We
maintain they are far from perfect, and are hopeful that our input will be
incorporated into a revised draft.”
In February this year, Cook Islands
Cabinet formally approved the three seabed minerals (SBM) exploration licence
applications from CIC Limited, CIIC Seabed Resources Limited and Moana Minerals
A Cook Islands News pre-election poll
conducted in July asked: “Do you support seabed mining in Cook Islands waters
in the future (five years’ time)?”.
Twenty-five per cent of people
surveyed said they did not know, while 37.5 per cent said “yes” and 37.5 per
cent said “no”.