Blue whales are the largest animals ever to have existed. Hunted almost to extinction, now these giants of the ocean are facing a new threat – from seabed mining off the New Zealand coast.
The controversial mining bid by Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) is currently being considered by New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If approved, it could seriously disrupt this vital foraging ground for the endangered blue whale, as well as affecting a vast array of other marine wildlife, including the critically endangered Maui’s dolphin.
Seabed mining is a new technology, and so TTR’s application is riddled with uncertainty.
What the company does admit is its efforts to extract iron sand from the bottom of the ocean would result in a 100km² plume of sediment spreading through the waters of the South Taranaki Bight, one of only five blue whale foraging grounds in the entire Southern Hemisphere. When questioned about specific impacts on the area’s ecology the company says, not very reassuringly, ‘the uncertainty of the uncertainty is uncertain.’
This mining operation should not go ahead until these uncertainties have been eradicated and TTR can prove that no marine wildlife will be affected. This will require much more scientific study. Until then, the New Zealand government has a responsibility to put the protection of endangered species above commercial concerns.
Thanks for standing up for the whales,