Category Archives: Pacific region

Experimental seabed mining!? Leave my down below alone!

Seas at Risk | April 21, 2017

Mr Smashing makes a comeback with an experimental seabed mining disco love song.

Destroying the deep sea to get metals for our throw-away mobile phones and other e-devices? Seas At Risk thinks it is better to step up efforts on the circular economy – make devices repairable, re-usable, recyclable. Use mineral resources more efficiently and keep them in the economy loop instead of wasting them.

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United Nations against experimental seabed mining in PNG

Merolyn Ten | Post Courier | April 20, 2017

THE United Nations is against the world’s first seabed mining operation which is set to start in two years time in the Bismarck Sea, off the coast of New Ireland Province.

Copper and gold deposits will be mined from the seafloor at a depth of 1600 metres. The UN says this will cause major environmental destruction not only to the communities in New Ireland but the entire Pacific Ocean, and is against the 14 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN.

“There is a high likelihood that mining will disrupt life under the sea and potentially cause mass devastation for biodiversity,” UN resident co-coordinator Ray Trivedy said. The 14 SDG states the importance of conservation and the sustainable use of the ocean, seas and marine resource.

Oceans, especially the Pacific Ocean which PNG is in, contain nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may lie in the millions. UN main targets were to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans as stated in the UN Convention Law of Sea.

“I am against sea bed mining because despite what some companies say, I am not convinced that it will lead to sustainable development,” Mr Trivedy said.

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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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Pacific churches against experimental seabed mining

Pacific churches call for a ban on experimental seabed mining in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific

Lice Movono | The Fiji Times | April 9, 2017

CHURCH leaders from the Pacific have called on governments and people of the Pacific to unite to preserve the region with regards to seabed mining.

In an acknowledgement of industry action in sea bed mining the churches acknowledges that developments were taking place in some governments but they singled out the government of Papua New Guinea for having issued mining licenses.

“We also acknowledge the campaigns against Seabed Mining by local communities in PNG. We are aware of the destruction by Seabed Mining,” the church statement said.

“Therefore, we call on the PNG Government and other Pacific countries to put a stop to testing of Seabed technology on PNG Land or Seas.”

The churches who were joined at the workshop by representatives of civil society organisations called on the rest of the non government community to unite stand with the churches and the Alliance of Solwara Warriors “to say NO” to any development regarding Seabed Mining in their area.”

“We call on the Governments and the people of the Pacific to stand together to preserve our common home for the unborn and the future generations.”

“We call on all the people and the governments of the Pacific to stand together in solidarity to Ban Seabed Mining in PNG and the Pacific.”

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Seabed mining law boost

Dr Pierre-Jean Bordahandy and Dr Lili Song.

Lice Movono | The Fiji Times | April 5, 2017

PACIFIC governments may soon have answers to major concerns about seabed mining which can be useful in the formulation of laws which govern the issue.

This follows a boost to the University of the South Pacific’s ability to provide research based analysis and advise when it won a research grant recently.

According to a statement from the University of the South Pacific (USP), two academics from its School of Law won the grant worth AUD 7000 from the Guangdong Institute for International Strategies.

The USP says the grant will fund a research project which examines the development of legal framework for deep-sea mining in South Pacific Island States.

The two academics, senior lecturer, Dr Pierre-Jean Bordahandy and lecturer Dr Lili Song, are based based at USP’s Emalus Campus in Vanuatu where they will will conduct the research.

The USP says Dr Bordahandy and Dr Song’s research will evaluate selected national deep-sea mining legal frameworks developed by Pacific Island governments states which consider the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and COP 21 and COP 22 agendas.

Major questions the two’s research will address include:

  • Whether there is any major discrepancy or imbalance between the international and national regimes that will lead to the shift of deep-sea mining operations from high sea areas to areas within national jurisdiction, or vice versa?
  • What is the role of the principle of precaution in relation to deep-sea mining?
  • Is there any major gap in the way deep-sea mining risks are framed in the various national regimes considered?

“According to Dr Bordahandy, the vast ocean floor of the Deep South Pacific is generally said to boast great potential of valuable mineral resources, however, its exploitation poses technical, environmental, economic challenges both to coastal states and to the international community,” the USP said.

Dr. Song said their analysis may help Pacific governments to make informed decisions as they legislate deep-sea mining “and to better address the various challenges presented by deep-sea mining operations.”

The project which started in December 2016 ends in November 2017.

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The Sinking Titanic: German Government facilitating Deep Sea Mining

NGOs and civil society from Papua New Guinea, Australia, Germany and around the world are calling for a ban on seabed mining. They challenge the development of regulations[1] by the International Sea Bed Authority (ISA) and the German Government’s push to strengthen these regulations this week at a meeting in Berlin[2].

“Enough is enough!” stated Pastor Matei from the Alliance of Solwara Warriors, Papua New Guinea (PNG). The Solwara 1 Project is risky business as it is an experiment and people do not want to be used as guinea pigs. The Bismarck Sea is not a science laboratory for Nautilus Minerals Inc.

“People from the Pacific are custodians of the world’s largest oceans and it is these oceans that connect everyone in the Pacific. The oceans are as important as land. They are sources of food and livelihoods and they are of strong cultural and spiritual importance. Experimental seabed mining threatens this.”

“The demand for a ban on deep sea mining reflects the views of communities in PNG and across the Pacific. Our opposition is strong and growing[3].”

Natalie Lowrey, Deep Sea Mining campaign stated,

“The demand by Pacific communities for a ban on this frontier industry is joined by the Deep Sea Mining campaign and leading NGOs in Germany. The development of regulations for deep sea mining is akin to loading more passengers onto a sinking Titanic. Report after report[4] demonstrate that the world’s oceans are already on the brink of peril.”

“Recent research from the MIDAS consortium indicates a concrete risk that deep sea mining would lead to serious irreversible harm. The ISA and the German Government are paving the way for yet another assault upon our oceans – an unprecedented and unnecessary assault.”

“The demand for a ban highlights the need to debate whether we should open up our oceans seabed to mining when alternatives are available. Germany and the EU should promote sustainable sources of minerals. such as urban mining.

Christina Tony, from the Bismarck Ramu Group in PNG said,

“In Papua New Guinea and across the Pacific we do not see experimental seabed mining as meeting any of our communities’ needs, nor does it provide a benefit for humankind as a whole. In PNG, and across the world, we already have plenty of land-based mines and they have plenty of problems.”

“Imposing this industry on us is another form of colonisation. By promoting experimental seabed mining, Germany and the EU are complicit in continuing the ‘empire’ tradition in which it believes it should be free to rape and pillage the Pacific for its own profit.”

 


NOTES

[1] See submissions by the Deep Sea Mining Campaign: http://www.deepseaminingoutofourdepth.org/wp-content/uploads/Deep-Sea-Mining-Campaign-submission-to-the-ISA-Nov-2016.pdf  and Seas At Risk: https://www.isa.org.jm/files/documents/EN/Regs/DraftExpl/Comments/SAR.pdf

[2] Organised by the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources the ‘Towards an ISA Environmental Management Strategy’ workshop is being held in Berlin this week 19-14 March. The meeting aims to progress an ISA Environmental Management Strategy for deep sea mining.

[3] Lutherans Walk 9 days Across Highlands Region Campaigning Against Deep Sea Mining in Papua New Guinea, EMTV; VIDEO: Lutherans Campaign Against Deep Sea Mining in PNG, EMTV online and Caritas PNG Forum call for ban on Sea bed mining

[4] Reports include: World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Reviving the Ocean Economy (2015) and The Living Planet (2016);  International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) State of the Ocean (2013) and Explaining Ocean Warming (2016); and the United Nation’s World Ocean Assessment 2016 which is a global inventory of the state of the marine environment and problems threatening to degrade the oceans.

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Poland may start experimental seabed mining in the Pacific

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Radio Poland | 24.02.2017

Few Poles actually know that their country has a sort of submarine plot located 500 miles southeast of Hawaii toward Mexico.

It has an area of 75,000 km2, which roughly equates to one quarter of Poland’s surface.

A Polish-based consortium has received permits from the International Seabed Authority to explore the zone. Will the country be able to start tapping into a vast well of underwater resources in the near future? 

“I think [technically] we could be quite optimistic here. Perhaps the deep-sea mining project for polymetallic nodules might be a reality within just a couple of years,” said Tomasz Abramowski Director General of Interoceanmetal.

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