Panda says risks of experimental seabed mining outweigh the limited benefits

International NGO group WWF says proposed experimental seabed mining will provide little benefit in Pacific island countries, while the risks and costs could be significant.

This is the conclusion in a new economic report commissioned by the Panda from policy and research consultancy firm MainStream Economics, titled Counting the Potential Cost of Deep Sea-bed Mining to Fiji.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Direct benefits to Fiji from experimental seabed mining are likely to be relatively small. While the major benefits will be from additional royalty and tax revenues, the major value adding will occur outside the Fijian economy.
  • There are a number of potential costs to tourism, commercial fishing, and other ecosystem services. These are poorly understood due to the current lack of information and data available on the risks to the marine environment, the relationships between those risks and key sectors, and the economic value of affected sectors.
  • Tourism is a key sector that is potentially at risk, particularly loss of Fiji’s reputation as a world-class marine tourism destination. Even relatively small reductions in overseas visitors can have significant economic consequences for tourism. Just a 5% decline in dive tourist visits would reduce Fiji’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by around FJD 14 million, and could result in the loss of more than o400 jobs.
  • Commercial fisheries, particularly tuna could also be impacted from plumes and water column discharges causing disruptions to marine food webs. Even small reductions in catch rates can have large economic impacts. Just a 5% reduction in catch rates would result in a 15% fall in value added and a 21% reduction in operating surplus/profit for the fishing industry. There would also be negative flow-on impacts in the processing sector.
  • Experimental seabed mining will also have an impact on other ecosystem services such as carbon abatement and the existence value of biodiversity.
  • In addition local residents derive cultural and subsistence benefits from the sustainable management and use of the marine environment. Little is known about the actual risks to those values in the Fiji context.

Download the report: Counting the potential cost of Deep Sea-bed Mining to Fiji [warning file size is 10MB]

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Filed under Environmental impact, Fiji, Financial returns, Pacific region

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