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   Government of the Republic of Fiji

  Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service

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Media Release

REMARKS BY THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AT KORDI RESEARCH VESSEL RECEPTION

REMARKS BY THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS & INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, HON RATU INOKE KUBUABOLA ON THE OCCASION OF THE VISIT OF KOREAN RESEARCH VESSEL “ARAON”, TUESDAY 26TH  APRIL 2011

Your Excellency Ambassador Cheong Hae-wook
Captain Jong Ryul KIM of the Research Vessel Araon,
Scientists and Crew on board the Vessel,
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentleman

Allow me to first of all acknowledge the kind words of welcome from His Excellency Ambassador Cheong Hae-wook.

To Captain KIM, the Scientists and Crew of the Vessel “Araon”, I say on behalf of all of us: BULA, NAMASTE, HWANGYONG-HAMNIDA AND WELCOME TO FIJI!

The vessel “Araon” is visiting us today after conducting research and deep sea survey in Tonga for the last one and half month. I understand the vessel is now on its way back to its homeport in Korea and should be returning later in the year to conduct research and deep sea survey in Fiji if all goes according to plan.

The potential for seabed mining in the Pacific Island region is significant. The Cook Islands EEZ, for example, is believed to contain some 7.5 million metric tons of manganese nodules, a potential source of 32 million metric tons of cobalt, or 520 years of supply at current world demand.
 
Cobalt-rich manganese crusts deposits have been found in the Federal States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. Polymetallic sulphide deposits have been discovered in the Lau Basin in Fiji and Tonga’s EEZ, and in the Manus and Woodlark Basins in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.
 
Indications that the Pacific polymetallic sulphide deposits may have a high gold content, with the extracted value potentially as high as US$2,000 per square meter, has led to an increase in foreign investors’ interest in the Pacific.
 
Seabed mining presents both an immense opportunity and an immense challenge for us in the Pacific. For us our livelihood and culture is based around these oceans, and it is an inseparable part of our culture, identity and way of life.
 
Our lives are interconnected with the cycles of the sea, it is our calendar and we are dependent on it for our survival. The protection of our ocean and our coastal areas therefore is of the utmost importance to all of us and our future generations.
 
In this regard we welcome research activities such as by the “Araon” as it will help in our understanding of our sea bed environment, the currents, the ecology and its true value.

Recognizing that seabed mining poses a very different set of challenges from land mining the Fiji Government has recently taken a number of deliberative measures to ensure the orderly development of this sector of our economy.
 
Government has for instance recently developed its Off Shore Mining Policy to guide the development of this sector.
 
Government has also recently amended our Mining Act to provide cover for deep sea mining exploration in Fiji waters.

In June this year Fiji will be joining other Pacific island states in Nadi under a European Union funded four-year regional Deep Sea Minerals Project designed to address the policy and legal requirements of Pacific Island Countries deep sea mining exploration.
 
All these efforts are aimed at protecting our oceans regenerative capacity as we explore its bountiful harvest. The visit today of the “Araon” is part of this overall process.

The Fijian Government is hopeful that cooperation in the area of marine and oceanic research will be another feature of our bilateral relations with the Korean Government.

We are therefore hopeful that officials from our Mineral Resources Department will be able to join their colleagues from Korea on board the Araon when it next visits Fiji for deep sea survey next year.

Excellencies
Ladies and Gentleman

Allow me to conclude by bidding Captain Jong Ryul KIM and the Scientists and Crew onboard the Research Vessel Araon, safe travel as you return to your home tomorrow.
 
May your efforts in improving our understanding of our oceans contribute to the peaceful utilization and development of this rare ecosystem to the benefit of all our people.

VINAKA VAKALEVU, DHANIYAVAD, KAMSAHAMNIDA, AND THANK YOU.