Updated: Jun 6, 2022
Pacific representatives today called on the New Zealand Government to urgently support an international moratorium on deep seabed mining.
Joey Tau, Fiji-based Deputy Coordinator of the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) and the Pacific Blue Line is calling for a ban on deep seabed mining in the Pacific region.
“For us here in the Pacific the ocean is an important part of us, and Pacific people are calling on an ethical approach and greater consultation.
“New Zealand has a moral responsibility to the region, to push a high ethical position. We need a collective regional response to say no to deep sea mining. “We did it for a nuclear free zone and we can do it again for a deep-sea mining free zone. The challenge is whether New Zealand will take a leading role in the region and the Pacific Islands Forum”.
Pelenatita Kara, Manager of the national campaign against Deepsea Mining and Campaign Manager of the Civil Society Forum of Tonga, said that the New Zealand Government needs to protect Pacific Island nations from extractive activities that will harm the moana and coastal resources.
"Tonga is not equipped and not ready to be a sponsoring partner of the metal mining company. We care about the livelihoods of our people and Tonga does not have the cash, expertise or legislation to manage this.
“We know barely anything about deep sea mining and the legal framework we have is not robust enough. The legal liability will fall on the rest of the community to pay. If there are any issues with the mining like pollution, we don’t have the finance to manage it.
“Despite saying “No”, the government is still going ahead because they think there is a potential source of revenue, but the money that might come, will never balance out the environmental degradation and damage to the livelihood of Tongan people”.
However, instead of leading, New Zealand is supporting measures which will allow seabed mining to begin.
“New Zealand must acknowledge that adopting regulations will mean the start of seabed mining,” said Duncan Currie, Legal Advisor for the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition.
“The rush to develop regulations is extremely misguided, and New Zealand needs to support Pacific nations concerned with the health of the Pacific Ocean which is so critical to their livelihoods and culture and support a moratorium on deep seabed mining.”
The financial benefits for individual countries are also not what they are made out to be. Nauru has agreed not to charge corporate income tax, Papua New Guinea lost US$120M in the seabed mining venture they embarked on with Solwara I, and Odyssey is suing Mexico for US$3.5 billion for not granting a seabed mining consent.
Teanau Tuiono, Green MP, and member of the Pacific Parliamentarians’ Alliance on Deep Sea Mining acknowledged that we are in the middle of a climate and biodiversity crisis.
“No one should have a permit to make a mess of the ocean floor, especially given the context we are living in. “We have a long history of using the Pacific as a place where we go and take things, it’s also seen as a place where we can get cheap labour, and that is New Zealand’s history of having an exploitative role in the Pacific. “We need proper consultation with Pacific communities, and we need to support indigenous and environmental leadership in the Pacific. This is untested science and it does not make any sense”.
Phil McCabe, the Pacific Regional Lead on deep sea mining for the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition summed up the three key areas of concern.
"We're seeing three key areas of concern being expressed across wide ranging groups that are calling for a moratorium: lack of scientific knowledge, unavoidable environmental harm and the urgent need for reform of the regulating body, the International Seabed Authority (ISA). This last one, urgent reform of the ISA is an action that leaders can tangibly take immediate action on."
James Hita of Greenpeace of Aotearoa also launched this petition calling on the New Zealand Government to take a strong stand against deep sea mining in the Pacific, and announce New Zealand’s support for a global moratorium.
In March 2022, the Pacific Elders’ Voice, comprising former Heads of State and high level leaders across the region, called for a halt to seabed mining. Concerns include the environmental, social and cultural impacts, the lack of scientific and technical information, and a lack of regulatory capacity on processes for deep-sea mining.
“It is a fact that most of the Pacific Island countries contemplating seabed mining do not have the capacity to effectively monitor such mining operations in which they may be involved."
The Pacific Elders’ Voice letter also states that the ocean floor holds great “significance and spirituality” for Pacific people and that this should be considered should seabed mining be contemplated.
In April 2022 the Pacific Parliamentarians Alliance on Deep Sea Mining, made up of Parliamentarians from 10 jurisdictions across the Pacific region, supported “the growing international call for a moratorium on deep sea mining in line with the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development to scientifically assess whether deep sea mining can be done in a way that avoids harm to ocean ecosystems, recognising the interconnectedness of these ecosystems beyond national jurisdictions.”
The Parliamentarians also said,
“As Pacific peoples, the ocean is central to life and wellbeing. From it we draw our identity, affirm our existence and spirituality, and cultivate and sustain our relationships. In it, we find our place in ecology. Caring for the ocean is a responsibility that also sustains and perpetuates us. This appreciation of the ocean is embedded in the values and cultural traditions handed down to us through generations of custodians.”
This issue was discussed at a webinar today and can be viewed here.
Today’s virtual webinar was hosted by the Environment and Conservation Organisations of Aotearoa /New Zealand (ECO), the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and Greenpeace Aotearoa as the second in a series of webinars focusing on the proposed activity of seabed mining.
For media enquiries and interviews please contact:
Phil McCabe - Pacific Regional Lead on Deep Sea Mining (DSCC) Phone: +64 27 294 3451 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
James Hita, Seabed Mining Campaigner for Greenpeace Aotearoa and Co-lead on global campaign against Deep Sea Mining for Greenpeace International Phone: +64 27 660 0028
Duncan Currie - Legal Advisor (DSCC) Phone: +64 21 632 335 Email: email@example.com
Joey Tau, Pacific Network on Globalisation Phone: +679 331 6722 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pelenatitia Kara (Tita), Civil Society Forum of Tonga Phone: +676 840 0444 Email: email@example.com
Teanau Tuiono, Green MP, and member of the Pacific Parliamentarians’ Alliance on Deep Sea Mining Phone: +64 21 021 62664 Email: Teanau.Tuiono@parliament.govt.nz
Teanau Tuiono, Green MP, and member of the Pacific Parliamentarians’ Alliance on Deep Sea Mining
Teanau has had 20 years of experience as an activist, advocate, and organiser at local, national, and international levels.
In Pasifika communities, Teanau is known for his work in the education sector and climate change advocacy, while in Māori communities he is known for his indigenous rights activism. He has a particular interest in working at the crossroads of indigenous rights and environmental issues and has worked with the United Nations, working to ensure the voices of remote indigenous communities on the frontlines of climate change and biodiversity loss were heard.
Pelenatita Kara, Deepsea mining national Campaign Manager, Civil Society Forum of Tonga
"As a neighbour, we feel that it is also our duty to sensitise the government of NZ about the implication of DSM and the potential ramifications of any form of extractive activities that will harm our Moana, our Coastal resources; for it will ultimately harm our people and their livelihood. That is a guarantee - that needs no scientific validation...It is only a matter of time. Unfortunately, Politicians will not be here by then - our children and our grandchildren will be paying that price for us!! That we SHOULD NOT allow."
Duncan Currie, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition
Duncan Currie has practiced international and environmental law for over 35 years. Over that time he has advised organisations, corporations and governments on a wide range of environmental issues including climate change, the law of the sea, whaling, fisheries, Antarctica, nuclear, liability, biosafety, toxic and chemical, forestry, mining, and waste issues. Duncan has advised the DSCC on bottom trawling issues since its inception.
Joey Tau, Fiji-based Deputy Coordinator of the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG)
PANG has raised concerns about proposed deep seabed mining in the Pacific region for over a decade. Joey is also a driving force within the Pacific Blue Line Collective. The Collective comprises the Pacific Council of Churches, WWF Pacific, Pacific Islands Association of NGOs, Development Alternatives with Women in a New Era, Tuvalu Climate Action Network, and PANG. It is calling for a ban on deep seabed mining in the Pacific region and is working to raise awareness and understanding of the issue across many sectors of society.