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.