Cook Islands Seabed Minerals Authority
Runanga Takere Moana

Cook Islands Seabed Minerals Authority

By our people, for our people.

Our moana nui o kiva

The Cook Islands has a special customary and spiritual connection and respect for the ocean, our Moana Nui O Kiva. This connection is considered to also carry an important role of stewardship, centered on our national Christian values and principles, of being good stewards of the land, sea and oceans which we are blessed with and in which we are to live and prosper. Our strong connection with the ocean is reinforced with the passing of our Marae Moana Act in 2017, with full bipartisan support, formalizing our national “Marae Moana;” a zoned, multi‐use marine park, promoting the protection and use of our Ocean, and upholding high environmental and conservation principles. The seabed mineral (SBM) sector is expected to be a zoned and regulated part of our Marae Moana, in which we must avoid and minimize potential negative impacts, while obtaining all positive benefits that the sector could potentially provide. The SBM sector is an exciting, emerging industry and potential opportunity for the Cook Islands people. We have a large and valuable seabed minerals resource of Manganese Nodules, at depths of 5,000 meters and at large distances from our islands. Our SBM sector has the potential to diversify our tourism focused economy and create positive and transformative change for our nation. It is important that we develop and grow the industry wisely and sustainably into the future, for the benefit of our people now and for future generations.


“Our culture is our way of life. Our values are reflected in the culture we practice, the choices we make, and ultimately determine who we are as a nation. The goals we set are a reflection of these values.”


Our vision

To develop and mature the seabed minerals (SBM) sector of the Cook Islands in order to maximise the benefit of our national seabed minerals resources for the Cook Islands people, while also taking into account social and environmental considerations. This is in-line with the country’s 2020 Vision “To enjoy the highest quality of life consistent with the aspirations of our people, and in harmony with our culture and environment.”

The Seabed Minerals Authority (SBMA) has been and is actively building international, regional and local community awareness and engagement related to the Cook Islands unique and valuable SBM resource. The SBMA has carried out prepatory steps to establish a modern, efficient and robust Regulatory Framework (rules and procedures) necessary to begin SBM activities in the Cook Islands. In conjunction with stakeholders the SBMA undertook a review of the 2009 SBM Act in order to better achieve its purpose of effective and responsible management of the seabed minerals of the Cook Islands.


The functions of the authority

  • Regulate seabed mineral activity in the Cook Islands in accordance with the Seabed Minerals Act 2009 (the Act) and the regulations

  • Ensure that the provisions of the Act relating to the conduct of seabed minerals activity in the Seabed of the Cook Islands are implemented and complied with in accordance with the Act and its regulations

  • To work within the framework of the Marae Moana Act on the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources

  • Ensure that the provisions of the Act are subject to the provisions of the Marae Moana Act 2017 (except in relation to the area beyond the limits of the national jurisdiction, as defined in Article 1(1) of UNCLOS

  • Make recommendations concerning the negotiation and conclusion of Seabed Mineral Agreements

  • Do anything that is incidental or conducive to the performance of any of the foregoing functions

  • Promote co-operation amongst government ministries, departments, local authorities, the private sector, research bodies, non-governmental and other organisations, concerning seabed minerals of the Cook Islands

  • Promote awareness of the SBM sector through community outreach and engagement

  • Assist in the provision of training in skills associated with the performance or exercise of the functions of the Authority

  • Provide secretarial and administrative services (including technical advice) to the Advisory Board connected with the exercise of its functions under the Act

seabed minerals authority team



Paul Lynch

The Commissioner overlooks and manages the day-to-day proceedings of the Authority. Responsible for the implementation of the SBM Act and regulatory framework, based on government policies, in cooperation with other ministries, agencies and legislation, for instance Marae Moana.


Admin Compliance officer

Caroline Tiria


GIS data manager

Rima Browne

Responsible for the provision of Geographic Information System (GIS) services to the Authority – preparation and management of mapping services for the allocation and on-going administration management of mineral licence, the exploitation register and data management for the Authority as required under the Seabed Minerals Act 2009 and in line with GIS standards expected of an international minerals management agency.

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Ana Glassie


CI National Sustainable Development 2016-2020 Plan

With renewed focus on measuring our progress in a holistic manner, in 2007 the Cook Islands launched our country’s 2020 visionary framework: Te Kaveinga Nui. The first National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP) articulated the national vision, and development outcomes desired by Cook Islanders. Below are the NSDP goals that the SBMA strive to achieve through the establishment and accomplishment of its agency goals.



“Expanding economic opportunities, improve economic resilience and productive employment to ensure decent work for all”

  • Increase economic diversity by encouraging DSM related opportunities for Cook Islanders.

  • Establishment and administration of a sound regulatory framework for national jurisdiction and the ISA area.

  • Offering internationally competitive investment and fiscal conditions to attract potential investors.



“Sustainable management of oceans, lagoons and marine resources”

  • Administration of SBM activities cooperatively within government and across the region, including Marae Moana.

  • Administration of activities cooperatively within government and across the region.