The head of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community says deep sea minerals will become an increasingly important commodity to a region beset by challenges.
The SPC has drafted a legislative framework on deep sea mining, intended as a guide for Pacific countries with ocean floor mineral resources.
The framework has been criticised for not affording enough protection of those likely to be affected by extractive work.
But the SPC's director general Dr Jimmie Rodgers says it's a starting point for the numerous Pacific countries who stand to benefit.
"In 50 years we'll probably have 20 million people. The natural resources will at best be the same level or less till the fisheries have gone. We have much, much larger challenges in smaller island countries to try and look at safeguarding population. Underwater sea minerals become a very, very important commodity."
Dr Jimmie Rodgers says the mining industry is a very powerful lobby group and the SPC is there to advise Pacific governments on policy.