An internationally celebrated environmentalist in the Cook Islands, Jacqui Evans, says she is disappointed in a change in stance on seabed mining by the Opposition, Democratic Party.
The Opposition leader, Tina Browne, announced last week they would no longer support the call for a 10 year moratorium on seabed mining exploration.
This was in line with the Cook Island Government's position.
Jacqui Evans said the Opposition switch showed how effectively the government had pushed its views on seabed mining.
"It's a reflection of the kind of discourse there is in the country at the moment where the government has been quite active in promoting one side of the story and people are starting to think that mining is not going to have much of an impact and it is going to be worthwhile getting that revenue, so people are starting to look favourably to it"
Evans was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2019 for her work in helping establish the Cook Islands Marae Moana, one of the biggest marine reserves in the world.
She was later sacked by the government with environmentalists claimin it was over her opposition to seabed mining while the government said at the time it chose not to renew Evans' contract so it could replace her with someone more attuned to working with grassroots communities and agencies.
Meanwhile the Democratic Party said in ending its opposition to the 10 year moratorium it was not saying it now supported seabed mining, rather that such a moratorium wouldn't work in the Cook Islands' favour.
The government said exploration was underway but any commercial mining was years away.