HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 642: 14 November 2012

Seabed Minerals update

Since the formal opening of the Avarua office of the Cook Islands Seabed Minerals Authority (SBMA) on 13 September 2012, the important work of the SBMA has focused on two main priorities-
1. Preparing for and taking advice aimed at the formal commencement of the Seabed Minerals Act 2009 on the 1st of March 2013, being the date determined by Cabinet; and
2. Communicating the status and plans of the Cook Islands national SBM sector to local and international parties.
The new Seabed Minerals sector, that the Cook Islands is cautiously developing, seeks to derive new and sustainable economic benefits for the Cook Islands from the unique and abundant Manganese Nodule mineral resource found deep in the waters of our vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
National prosperity is not something to be feared and avoided, but rather to be managed well as a wise steward, as the Bible declares in Psalms 35:27, “the Lord takes pleasure in the prosperity of His servant”.
But the caution from Minister Marsters is also that our future national economic betterment from our Seabed Minerals sector must also be aligned with achieving the best social and environmental outcomes for the Cook Islands people for this and future generations. The guiding beliefs are that “no one in the tribe gets left behind” and that as Minister Marsters asserts that we “do this right”, “Kia mako te au mea katoatoa”.
The first Premier of the Cook Islands in the 1960’s, Albert Henry, is known to have said when talking about national development issues “Auraka tetai tangata i runga i te vaka kia akarukena , that “noone in the tribe gets left behind” . This sentiment has been shared by our past and current political leaders from both sides of the House of Parliament, who supported the passing of the Seabed Minerals Act 2009 in a truly unique and bipartisan approach, and based on community consultation and support.
For this reason, there are two key focus areas for the current preparatory work of the Seabed Minerals Authority, which we will be bringing to our community for discussion, being the-
1. Responsible financial management of future SBM revenues; and
2. Environmental management of future SBM activities in our EEZ, based on the best international standards and processes.
Regulations for the SBM sector are currently being prepared based on the best international model, and the advice of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which recommends the creation of a “Sovereign Wealth Fund”, which I like to call “the Fund for the Future”. The bulk of future revenues from the SBM sector will be sensibly preserved in this national Fund to be managed by MFEM and only a percentage will be available each year for each Government’s annual national Budgetary needs.
Regulations for the SBM sector are currently being developed, based on the highest international environmental standards. It has to be accepted that all human developmental activities have some impact on the world we live in. For example, we happily live in homes on land that was cleared from its natural state. We also all now benefit from the use smart hi-tech devices, which depend on the continual global extraction and use of minerals and rare earth metals. So the big issue then is how to minimize and take precautions to limit the impacts of our development activities on our precious environment, while also benefiting from the resources we have been blessed with. Our SBM Environmental regulations are being drafted with help from the regional SPC/EU DSM Project and based on a sensible and balanced interpretation of the guiding Precautionary Principle, expressed in the 1992 Rio Declaration.
Paul Lynch,
Seabed Minerals Commisioner

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

Copyright 2006 Cook Islands Herald online . All rights reserved.