Friday the 15th July 2016 is a significant milestone in the Cook Islands aspirations to realize the potential of the mineral resource within its EEZ.
This is a journey that has its beginnings in April 1972 when Sir Albert Henry our Premier at the time joined the NZ delegation to the Law of the Sea Conference in Caracas, Venezuela. He was given the opportunity to speak and on behalf of all small Island states in the world he made an impassioned plea to the larger nations to recognise the rights of Island people and nations to the resources of the ocean.
In recent times the opportunities our EEZ may one day provide have been progressed by His Excellency Tom Masters in his role as Minister of the Crown then by Sir Terepai Maoate and for the last 5 years our country’s efforts have been guided by the Hon. Mark Brown, Minister responsible for the Seabed Minerals Authority (SBMA) and the Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC).
The contract we have signed today (Friday 15th July 2016) with the United Nations “International Seabed Authority” (ISA) and the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with GSR (Belgium) are the direct result of the hard work of a small team of dedicated Cook Islanders supported by our regional and international partners at SOPAC/SPC based in Suva and the Commonwealth Secretariat, based in London.
All Cook Islanders can be proud of the work done by Paul Lynch and his team at the SBMA in getting the Cook Islands message out to the world and managing the legislation progress. From Crown Law our new solicitor General David James and particularly Alex Herman have been instrumental in both the work with the ISA contract and the details needed to complete our Joint venture agreement.
At CIIC, Board members Malcolm Sword and Caren Rangi and our CEO Tamarii Tutangata have been involved with every step we have made since the heads of agreement was first signed in 2013. From the beginning of this process CIIC engaged Heinz Matysik to head our legal team which has included Lloyd Miles of CIIC, Hannah Lily and Joshua Brien of the Commonwealth Secretariat and Marie Bourrel of SOPAC/SPC.
What we have signed with the ISA today gives the Cook Islands Government and people a contract to exclusive mineral rights to an area of 75,000 km2 in the Clarion Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCFZ) of the Pacific Ocean.
The Joint Venture Agreement we have signed with GSR Belgium is a partnership that provides GSR the opportunity to explore and one day exploit the contract area that the Cook Islands hold. At some point in the future, we hope that GSR will also explore opportunities in our own EEZ.
Mr. Nii Allotey Odunton, Secretary General, International Seabed Authority with Mr. Michael Henry, Board Chairman, Cook Islands Investment Corporation
Michael Henry, Chairman, Board of Directors