10 Dec 2009

Cook Islands environmental lobbyist says deep sea mining bill fast-tracked

9:00 pm on 10 December 2009

A Cook Islands environmental lobbyist is accusing politicians on both sides of the house of fast-tracking a bill that paves the way for mining of the seabed around the country.

The Deep Sea Mining Bill will allow minerals such as manganese, cobalt and nickel to be extracted from nodules on the country's sea floor.

A spokesperson for the Deputy Prime Minister's office says the legislation is environmentally robust and mining will begin only after the establishment of a controlling authority.

But Noeline Kainuku-Browne says the public was not given enough time to prepare submissions against the bill.

"I can't see how you can do any mining and gather all these minerals supposedly on the seabed without ruining the environment within that area. And I'm just concerned that we're also supposed to be a whale sanctuary in the sense of I can't see if you're going to be doing all of that surely it's going to cause some sort of sedimentation of some description or you know dirtying of the water anyway of some description which I'm very concerned will wreck our tuna fishing industry as well."

Noeline Kainuku-Browne of the Cook Islands.