The Cook Islands government says it plans to start seabed mining exploration next year, as it looks to shore up support for new laws.
The government's Seabed Minerals Authority last week publicly released a draft copy of the Seabed Minerals Bill after facing pressure from opposition MPs to do so.
The Finance Minister Mark Brown is touring the country to consult locals on the bill, which will enable non-commercial seabed mining.
Radio Cook Islands reported the government wants to have local personnel on board all exploration vessels.
So far, five offshore companies have expressed interest.
If passed, the bill would replace the Minerals Act 2009.
It was drafted with assistance from the New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel's Office, with advice from the Commonwealth Secretariat and Pacific Community.
The government is accepting feedback from the public on the bill until February 6.