SOPAC tries to undermine the precautionary principle

ACT NOW! |  Pacific Network on Globalization  | Social Empowerment and Education Program

Pacific Island Countries have been told they should effectively abandon the protection afforded by the precautionary principle to allow the development of experimental seabed mining in the region.

Dr Russell Howarth, director of SOPAC Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has said in Rio De Janeiro, the precautionary principle needs to be re-interpreted so that rather than stopping any industrial activity where the negative environmental and social impacts are not known until further research is completed we should instead “…in any development where there are threats of serious harm to the marine environment, the lack of full scientific data shall not be used as a reason for postponing that development…”

Maureen Penjueli, coordinator of the Pacific Network on Globalization, says:

“Dr. Howarth’s statement is a complete bastardization of the Precautionary Principal which is supposed to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk by stopping any development until further scientific findings emerge that provide sound evidence that no harm will result.

Effrey Dademo, Program Manager of Act Now!, an advocacy group in Papua New Guinea says:

“Experimental Seabed mining involves two major uncertainties.  First, there are significant questions and unknowns about the mining technology, its efficacy, safety, and the impacts that may arise from the process.  Second, the seabed environment is a unique and diverse realm that has not been extensively researched and is not well understood.  Both of these uncertainties warrant unprecedented caution and attention before proceeding with full-scale development of experiment on seabed mining”.

SOPAC is being funded by the European Union to draft a Legislative Framework to facilitate experimental seabed mining that does not incorporate the precautionary approach, and instead advocates the use of adaptive management, or “learning by doing.”

“Dr Howarth is trying to over-turn the principles agreed by the international community in the original Rio Treaty 20 years ago”, says Chantelle Khan from the Social Empowerment and Education Program. “He is doing this to benefit the mining industry at the expense of Pacific people and our livelihoods”.



Filed under Environmental impact, Fiji, Papua New Guinea

10 responses to “SOPAC tries to undermine the precautionary principle

  1. Kerang

    Papua New Guinea cannot be used as guinea pig. Dr.Howarth may be right but let the Mining Companies trial your philosophy somewhere else, and then in PNG may be in the next 15-20 years.

    I do agree that precautionary principle could be lessened in the name of development… But not at the expense of people and environment. Unless deep sea mining has been successful elsewhere in other parts of the world then it is safe to say that Pacific or PNG for that matter could relax its precautionary commitments as party to a number of Environmental Treaties and accept deep sea mine.

  2. Jose auo

    If there is experiments to be made on Sea Bed Mining then they should be taken to the shores of America or Europe and see whether the Government there will entertain this type of Mining proposed.The Pacific Region particularly PNG seems to be the experimental playground for the Mining Companies without Research thourough Environmental Impact Assessment and Mitigation measures been openly discussed especially for the social as well as livelihood impacts of the local populations today and the future generations living within and nearby the proposed developmental sites .

    • Wesely

      Jose auo
      You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink
      Have you actually bothered to read any of the scientific papers and reports on this project?
      Or are you merely exercising your civil rights to righteous indignation (minus the facts)

  3. j kross

    How does the precautionary principle work?

    Well, since the earth will be struck by a giant asteroid in the future, and no one knows when but it COULD happen, all nations on earth MUST sacrifice half of their GDP to build a giant cricket bat to knock it back when it approaches planet Earth. A MUST pay against a COULD happen is daylight robbery.

    Those who push for the cricket bat construction know it won’t happen in their lifetime, but just in case, JUST IN CASE, give us your money. We know how to tackle the asteroid.

    • j kross

      Apologies and thanks to Lord Christopher Walter Monckton for the cricket bat analogy originally meant for the collapsing global warming aka climate change aka climate disruption aka clean energy scam.

  4. wesely

    j kross
    Thanks for the laugh, the analogy is perfect, but, ‘they way it down there in Tassie.

  5. Wilson Grey

    This is hilarious…seems like this blog has turned into a comedy site!

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