Only three people attended the meeting on the bill, which is with the parliamentary select committee headed by MP for Vaipae/Tautu, Mona Ioane. Other select committee members include Rose Brown, Toka Hagai, Tai Tura, William Heather, James Beer and Selina Napa.
Ioane, who said he was disappointed with the turnout, said the consultation provided members of the public with an opportunity to express their views and concerns regarding the bill.
Parliament, through the select committee, was providing an opportunity for the public to learn more about the bill before it was passed into law.
Ioane said the low attendance at the meeting could have been due to two other social engagements on the same night.
“We need as many people (as possible) at such consultations. It’s really important for them to have their views heard. We are giving that opportunity and the onus is on the public to make good use of it.”
However, Ioane said some excellent suggestions had been made during the opening consultation.
“There was an interesting question regarding the inclusion of environment in the Marine Resources Bill raised by Dr Teina Rongo.”
The bill which is aimed at providing sustainable use of marine resources in and around the Cook Islands for the benefit of the people, was tabled by prime minister and marine resources minister Henry Puna in Parliament last month.
The Marine Resources Bill 2017 will replace the Marine Resources Act 2005, which will be repealed.
When tabling the bill, Puna said development in the marine sector regionally and internationally had been rapid and far-reaching. Domestically, there had been some major developments, he added.
A need for legislation to accommodate these developments would ensure the Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) discharged its management responsibilities more effectively.
Public consultations will be held in three vakas on Rarotonga before the committee heads to the outer islands.
Ioane said he would call for a meeting with fellow committee members this week to finalise dates for meetings in Vaka Puaikura and Vaka Takitumu.
The select committee has been asked to report back to Parliament on the outcome of its consultations by May 31.