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Government punts seabed mining: failing communities and the ocean

Press release The government's move to appoint a select committee inquiry into seabed mining is disappointing and unnecessary, given the wealth of experience it’s had over three failed seabed mining applications and three court cases, said Kiwis Against Seabed Mining.

"We already know an enormous amount about seabed mining: the government doesn’t need an inquiry to understand that this industry would trash our oceans. It’s abundantly clear the public doesn't want it: from community and environmental groups to tangata whenua, anybody who fishes the ocean, and the scientific community: a wide breadth of society has opposed this dangerous industry,” said Kiwis Against Seabed Mining chairperson Cindy Baxter.

The public is overwhelmingly against seabed mining

“Why set up a separate process when Debbie Ngarewa-Packer is introducing a bill proposing a full ban on seabed mining into Parliament next week? Wouldn’t it be better for a Select Committee to finesse that bill and get it passed into legislation?”

The Environmental Protection Authority has refused two seabed mining applications, the first for the South Taranaki Bight, and the second, very strong decision against a deep seabed mining bid to mine the Chatham Rise. While it gave Trans Tasman Resources’ second attempt a green light, that was subsequently quashed by the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, with all strong decisions focussing on the considerable environmental concerns. “We had 13,000 people submitting against seabed mining to the EPA, and only a tiny handful supported it. We also handed in a 35,000 strong petition to the government calling for a ban, and thousands more have signed since.

“It’s time for a ban, not just more talk,” said Baxter.

International stance

“New Zealand has preceded the rest of the world in scrutinising this destructive activity, reflecting that experience in its policy for a “conditional moratorium” in international waters, joining a growing collective of countries in the Pacific and the world in working to stop the destruction before it starts,” says Phil McCabe of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, announced New Zealand’s “conditional moratorium” position on international seabed mining last October, citing “extremely limited” scientific knowledge, irreversible changes to the environment and “significant impacts on its biodiversity”.

“We know that strip mining the ocean floor is unacceptably destructive, we know New Zealanders don’t want it, why is the Government vacillating and wasting valuable time and energy in yet another process?"

Further reading/related documents Government press release

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