Cook Islands to grant seabed mining exploration licenses within a year

  • The Cook Islands government will allow miners to prospect for minerals on its seabed, with an eye to commencing mining within five years.
  • -Officials justify the decision on the need to ease the country’s economic dependence on tourism, which has taken a hit from coronavirus-related travel restrictions.
  • -Scientists, environmental advocates and civil society organizations have expressed alarm at the plan and warned of potentially disastrous ecosystem impacts that could also hurt local fisheries.
  • The Cook Islands in 2017 designated its entire exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of nearly 2 million square kilometres (772,000 square miles) as a marine protected area, but in 2019 passed legislation effectively allowing the issuance of seabed mining permits to undercut that move.
Monica Evans, June 2020