Tag Archives: New Zealand

Fish stocks and high emotion at seabed mining hearing

Nga Rauru submitters (left) Bill Hamilton, Turama Hawira, Anne-Marie Broughton, Archie Hurunui and Te Pahunga Marty Davis say seabed mining encroaches on their rights and interests. PHOTO/ SUPPLIED

Laurel Stowell | Wanganui Chronicle | March 9, 2017

From vulnerable blue cod to crying mokopuna – there were a variety of submissions to seabed mining hearings in New Plymouth on Tuesday.

It was the second day of hearings into Trans-Tasman Resources’ (TTR’S) proposal to mine iron-sand from 66 square kilometres of seabed off the Patea coast. There were about 50 people listening to the submitters.

Tanea Tangaroa, from Whanganui, began her unscripted evidence with a pause and a dramatic question for the four-member decision making committee: “Ko wai koe? (Who are you?)”

It was the question her grandchildren were asking her.

“Who are the people that are coming in and wanting to do this to our taonga (treasures).”

In her matauranga (knowledge) all people are one, she said.

“I have to tell them that the people who are doing this are extensions of ourselves. Our children cry to hear this, as I cry for them.”

Raukura Waitai, who lives at Kai Iwi, said her people were coastal and they had been promised their fisheries would be protected.

“The ocean is our church, our food source, our recreation ground. It’s where we go for healing.”

Mining would injure its mauri (life force), she said.

“If the life force of the moana is compromised, so too will be our life force.”

Witnesses Alessandra Keighley, from Parihaka, and Rochelle Bullock, from Whanganui, sang after they spoke. Some got applause – frowned on by committee chairman Alick Shaw.

“We are not going to have applause here. You will be asked to leave if it continues,” he said.

Fisherman Roger Malthus said he worried for the blue cod fishery, because blue cod were territorial and stayed in the same place on the seabed. Mining 24/7 for 35 years, with the sediment plume it creates, would affect them.

“The question of impact on recreational fishers is a really important consideration for us,” Mr Shaw said.

The South Taranaki Underwater Club’s Bruce Boyd said the sediment plume could decrease primary production in the sea by 40 per cent. The plume would pass over many reefs, including the reef the club focuses on in the South Taranaki Reef Life Project.

It could reduce visibility there by as much as 50 per cent. That concerned him, as a diver, because it was already hard to find weather calm enough to dive there.

Members of the Nga Motu Marine Reserve Society talked of impacts on orca and seabirds. They said there was not enough information about South Taranaki’s marine environment, and TTR hadn’t used the best information available in its application.

Malibu Hamilton, from surfing organisation Te Ngaru Roa a Maui, suggested the Environmental Protection Authority get a financial bond from TTR, to be used to repair any damage caused by mining.

Representing the Raglan Sport Fishing Club, Sheryl Hart said the west coast fishery has been rebuilding since quota management began and nothing should jeopardise that.

“Young fish need soft corals and low reef and seaweed to grow into adults. Soft corals are very, very susceptible to sedimentation. The value of the fishery is far outweighed by anything you make out of seabed mining.”

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Our submissions were ignored – NZ seabed mining protesters

Busloads of people protested outside the Environmental Protection Authority hearing to consider Trans Tasman Resources’ seabed mining application. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Robin Martin | Radio NZ | 7 March 2017

Thousands of submissions against a proposed seabed mining project in Taranaki are being ignored, opponents say.

Greenpeace and Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) say the Environmental Protection Authority’s summary of the submissions is misleading, and its report should be withdrawn.

Hearings are underway now for Trans-Tasman Resources’ application to process 50 million tonnes of iron sands a year for up to 35 years, from a 65 square kilometre block off the coast of Patea.

A similar application was rejected in 2014, but the company said the science had progressed and any environmental damage would be minimal.

The environmental groups said a detailed analysis of submissions made for the application did not include more than 13,000 objections to the project that were made via their websites.

KASM spokesperson Phil McCabe said the report instead drew attention to the submissions made directly to the Environmental Protection Authority website, of which 56 percent were in favour.

“The analysis only looks in detail at the 262 submissions that went directly to the EPA website. They’ve all but ignored the other 13,400 or so submissions that came through third-party websites, through KASM and Greenpeace’s websites.”

Mr McCabe said the report gave the impression a majority of submitters were in favour of the project, which was not the case.

“It’s a bizarre approach and in our view it’s essentially disrespecting people that made submissions and not taking their views into account.

“Another issue is that those submissions are not available to be viewed on the EPA website, therefore they are not on the record.”

KASM and Greenpeace have asked for the report to be withdrawn.

But the authority’s decision-making committee said the report did not hide from the fact that there were a large number of third-party submissions opposed to the project and it would not be withdrawing it.

“In the decision-making committee’s view there is nothing misleading about the report… It does not attempt to suggest there were not a large volume of third-party web-based submissions that opposed the proposal.”

The key themes and character of the third-party submissions were set out in the report, the committee said.

“This report does not, and was never intended to, remove the requirement for committee to have regard to any and all submissions made and it will be discharging this duty accordingly.”

Iwi have lost faith

Busloads of South Taranaki Māori attended the hearings in New Plymouth yesterday where Ngāti Ruanui, Ngaa Rauru and Ngaruahine made submissions. All three iwi oppose the application.

Kaiarataki Te Runanga o Ngāti Ruanui spokesperson Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said the iwi had a good relationship with oil and gas companies and took issue with Trans Tasman Resources painting it as obstructive.

“We are not a tribe that will sit there and turn our back on opportunities. We can’t afford to be. So this myth, this legend, this whole Walt Disney story that the ‘haters and wreckers’ don’t want progress is simply not correct.”

The iwi had lost faith in Trans Tasman Resources and did not believe it could control the environmental impacts of the project, Ms Ngarewa-Packer said.

Outside the hearing, Hawera kuia Tangiora Avery simply worried about what the effect of the project would be on her mokopuna.

“The sea is a life-giving thing that has been going on for our people for centuries. It’s our food basket. We were taught from the time as babies how to go, where to go, what to do on the beach.

“When you have people tearing at your beach there’s going to be nothing left for the next generation that’s here.”

Hearings into Trans Tasman Resources’ application are due to end on 20 March and a decision is due 20 working days later.

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Caution essential, Ngā Rauru tells seabed mining hearing

The legislation that set up the Environmental Protection Authority requires it to favour caution and environmental protection, Te Pahunga Marty Davis says. PHOTO/ STUART MUNRO

Laurel Stowell | NZ Herald | March 7, 2017

The complex and chaotic seas of the South Taranaki Bight should not be subjected to the risk of seabed mining, Ngā Rauru people told an Environmental Protection Authority committee on Monday.

Ngāti Ruanui was the first tribe to speak on the first day of the authority’s seabed mining hearings in New Plymouth. It’s the closest iwi to Patea, where mining is proposed offshore. At least 72 Ngāti Ruanui people were expected to attend.

The authority is considering whether Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) can mine 65.7km of seabed 22-36km offshore from Patea, for up to 35 years.

After Ngāti Ruanui came Ngā Rauru. Its chairman Te Pahunga Marty Davis has been told the authority is legally obliged to apply the “precautionary principle” especially strongly.

“The uncertainty and insufficiency of field testing is extremely concerning for an operation that involves 65 square kilometres of what is the equivalent of underwater open-cast mining,” he said.

Approving the application would open the way for mining applications along the black sand coasts of the North Island, he said.

The iwi has had advice from legal experts from Victoria, Auckland and Otago universities, as well as writing its own submission.

On Tuesday the authority will hear from Whanganui iwi fisheries representatives, governance entity Ngā Tangata Tiaki and the Ngā Ruahine iwi. Also speaking will be Hawera’s Karen Pratt, Taranaki Regional Council, Ngā Wairiki/Ngāti Apa, Tanea Tangaroa, John Milnes and Nicola Patrick.

The hearings are expected to finish in New Plymouth on Thursday, and resume in Wellington on March 15.

TTR’s application to mine the seabed received 13,500 submissions, most of them opposed.

It’s supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Fairfax has reported that James Stevenson-Wallace, the general manager of its energy and resources division, told the authority the iron-sand was a “world class resource” which the ministry wanted to see developed.

“We believe that granting TTR’s marine consent sends a positive signal to investors that will support New Zealand’s efforts to support foreign investment into New Zealand,” he said.

Developing New Zealand’s mineral resources would be a critical component in helping to achieve targets set by the Government’s Business Growth Agenda, he told Fairfax.

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Massive blue whale population found in NZ proposed seabed mining area

A baby blue whale filmed nursing off the Taranaki coast observed by Leigh Torres and her crew last year was likely a world-first.

A baby blue whale filmed nursing off the Taranaki coast observed by Leigh Torres and her crew last year was likely a world-first.

Jeremy Wilkinson | Stuff NZ | February 22 2017

Blue whales – the world’s largest animal – have been found in abundant numbers in a proposed seabed mining area in Taranaki. 

Marine mammal expert Leigh Torres made a presentation to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in Wellington on Wednesday on the results of a recent survey in the South Taranaki Bight, which found a blue whale population of at least 68. 

The EPA is meeting to hear arguments for and against an application from miner Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) to mine millions of tonnes of iron sands off the coast of Patea. TTRs first application was rejected in 2014.

Torres, a professor from Oregon State University professor who has carried out research in Taranaki waters in collaboration with the Department of Conservation, said seabed mining will have a severe impact on the whale population in the area.  

“The likely impacts of seabed mining are increased noise in the area, which could seriously affect the whales and their primary prey which is krill,” she said. 

“The mining will be noisy and whales’ hearing is crucial to them, they rely more on it than they do eyesight.

“But it’s the sediment created from uplifting the sand that could affect the krill which would in turn affect the whales feeding.”

Torres and her team observed 68 individual whales over 32 sightings during nine days this year, more than twice the number of whales they observed last year when they captured world-first footage of a calf feeding from its mother. 

Torres said that whales are generally seen by the scientific community as being migratory animals, but her study so far indicates that the population they’ve been following have made South Taranaki their home.

“All we really know for certain at this stage is that the South Taranaki Bight is very important to this population,” she said. 

“We’ve observed them surface-feeding but we also hear them through hydrophones calling to each other almost daily. So we know they’re there a lot of the time.”

Torres said the team had identified mating calls from males which indicated the whales were staying around to breed.

Although TTR has offered certain mitigation strategies to protect the whales, such as deploying its own hydrophones to monitor the population, Torres said it wasn’t enough.

“The evidence I’ve presented at the hearing supports the argument of the opposition to the mining,” she said. 

“But my own personal opinion is that the mining is not worth the risk to the whales.”

Oil and gas activities have operated with the Taranaki region for decades as New Zealand’s only oil-producing basin, but Torres feared the effects of adding mining to the mix could do cumulative damage. 

This is Trans Tasman Resource’s second application to the EPA to mine more than 50 million tonnes of iron-laden sand per year from a 66 square kilometre area off the coast of Patea. 

The company’s application was rejected in 2014 amid concerns of a lack of knowledge as to the environmental effects of their proposal. 

When they applied last year the EPA saw a record number of submissions flood in against the proposal – more than 17,000 – in an effort spearheaded by New Zealand anti-mining group Kiwis Against Seabed Mining. 

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NZ Forest & Bird warns of seabed mining risks to marine mammals

Photo: Reinhard Dirscherl/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Scoop NZ | 16 February 2017

Forest & Bird is warning that the destructive practice of seabed mining would cause significant damage to the marine environment if allowed to proceed in the South Taranaki Bight.

The environmental organisation will be appearing at Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) hearings starting today, opposing the latest plans to mine for iron ore sand.

Trans Tasman Resources Limited (TTRL) has applied to undertake iron sand seabed mining in the region between South Taranaki and Golden Bay. The application area covers 65 km² of seabed, more than three times the size of Kapiti Island.

In their submission, Forest & Bird describe the significant damage that mining would cause to the seafloor, and to seabirds, fish and marine mammals.

“We know that the mining will have a significant impact on the seafloor and associated marine life, not just in the vast mine footprint, but on a much wider area due to suspended sediment plumes,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague.

“But what is equally important is what we don’t know about the long term and cumulative impacts on the habitat of threatened and at risk species.”

Thirteen whales and dolphin species are known to use the South Taranaki Bight, and whale stranding records show that impacts on a much larger number of species should be considered.

TTRL has also failed to provide a thorough description of noise from their proposed operations, making it impossible to assess the impacts on whales and dolphins in the region.

“The South Taranaki Bight has been recognised as an important blue whale foraging ground, possibly one of only five known in the Southern Hemisphere outside of Antarctica,” says Mr Hague. The blue whale is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as internationally endangered.

“This is a terrible proposal, not just in terms of environmental impacts, but also due to the potential damage to the New Zealand’s ‘clean green’ reputation and tourist industry,” says Mr Hague.

A total of 13,733 submissions were received on this application, the highest number of submissions the EPA has received on any application since it was established in 2011.

“There is a huge amount of community feeling against this destructive practice,” says Mr Hague.

“We are urging the EPA to decline the application.”

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Strong opposition to NZ seabed mining proposal at EPA hearings

seabed-mining-protest

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining | Scoop NZ | February 15, 2017

When seabed mining hearings open in Wellington today, the strength of opposition will be apparent to the Environmental Protection Authority, said Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) today.

The EPA is hearing a renewed application by mining company Trans-Tasman Resources to dig up 50 million tonnes of the seabed a year in a 66 sq. km section of the South Taranaki Bight – for 35 years. The EPA refused the company a consent in 2014. They have now re-applied.

“It is clear from the hearing schedule and the more than 13,500 individual submissions that there is little support for this proposal,” said Phil McCabe, KASM Chairperson.

“While the EPA has not released its analysis of the submissions as it did last time yet, it is clear that the vast majority of those who spoke out are against this destructive practice.”

There are three times as many submitters as for the first application.

Members of the public opposed to the application will gather outside the venue at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, when the hearings open.

Inside, the first day will see opening statements in opposition from KASM, whose lawyers will also represent Greenpeace, from almost the whole of the country’s fishing industry, including fishing giants Talley’s and the Maori Fisheries company Te Ohu Kaimoana, and from the Royal Forest & Bird Society and Origin Energy.

The strength of Maori opposition will be evident at the hearings in New Plymouth, the only venue outside Wellington, on 6 March.

“All the local Iwi are opposing this proposal. KASM has supported calls by the Iwi for hearings in the communities that would be most affected by the seabed mining.”

The process has been marked by extensive procedural wrangling. KASM late last year applied to the Environment Court to force release of crucial environmental information that had been withheld by the EPA. The Environment Court agreed, ordering release of the material.

“KASM will continue to fight for public participation,” said McCabe. “Most recently we objected strongly to the decision of the committee not to allow cross examination. If anything, in light of the fact that the EPA has turned down two applications, there should be more scrutiny than ever on this proposal.”

McCabe also slammed the Department of Conservation for refusing to make a submission, when, in the first application by Trans Tasman Resources in 2013, DOC made extensive submissions, particularly on the conditions for any consent, which was ultimately refused

“DOC has ditched its responsibility to protect the world’s most endangered dolphin, the Maui dolphin, despite the mine site being in its southern habitat. DOC’s lack of engagement in this process is shocking,” he said.

KASM experts will be giving evidence next week. These include:

• Blue whale expert Dr Leigh Torres (Tuesday February 21), who has been studying the presence and behaviour of blue whales in the South Taranaki Bight. Dr Torres is out in the Bight right now, on another research expedition where she is looking for confirmation of her theory that the Bight is not only a feeding ground for the blue whales, but could also be a breeding ground for a New Zealand-specific population. See her evidence here.

• Dr John Cockrem of Massey University (Wednesday February 22), one of the country’s leading experts in the little penguin – Korora, or Blue Penguin – whose populations are in decline. The plume from the seabed mining could affect the food and feeding grounds of these birds, and others. See his evidence here.

• Economist Jim Binney (Thursday 23 February) has challenged the methodology Trans-Tasman Resources has used to extrapolate its economic benefits and job creation from the proposal. He argues they should have used the Treasury’s recommended cost benefit analysis methodology and that they should have valued environmental and social costs. See his evidence here.

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Iwi criticises lack of notice by NZ EPA of ironsand mining application hui

ttr-application-map

Trans Tasman Resources have applied to mine iron ore from a 66-square kilometre area off the South Taranaki coast.

Stuff NZ | February 10 2017

Taranaki iwi say they were not given enough notice of a conference being held today ahead of a hearing on plans to mine millions of tonnes of iron-laden sand off the southern Taranaki coast.

More than 13,733 submissions have been received over Trans-Tasman Resources’ (TTR) bid to mine the seabed off Patea.

Next Thursday the Environmental Protection Agency will begin its hearing on the application in Wellington.

Today, Friday, the EPA is holding a pre-hearing conference at the Westpac Stadium – but iwi say they only had a week’s notice as the hearing was announced on an EPA website the day the long Waitangi Day weekend began.

“Announcing a hui to consider critical matters of the hearing process with only a week’s notice, requiring RSVP only two working days later, speaks volumes to the very concerns iwi and others in the South Taranaki community have about the EPA process,” Kaitumuaki Cassandra Crowley, of Te Korowai o Ngāruahine Trust, said.

She said iwi found out about the pre-hearing conference while searching for updates on the application.

“At such short notice, it is difficult for iwi and many other Taranaki community-based submitters and individuals to attend a hui in Wellington.”

Crowley said critical technical submissions would be determined at the conference.

The iwi questioned whether the EPA had sufficient resources to properly assess the application, she said.

They also wanted to know why hearings were being held away from the affected area and where the most affected people were based.

EPA principal communications advisor Helen Corrigan said the EPA did have sufficient resources to process the TTR application.

She said the decision-making committee advised on February 3 that a pre-hearing conference would be held on February 10  at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

This was posted on the EPA’s website on February 3 and all submitters and the applicant were notified the same day.

Submitters who indicated in their submission they could receive electronic correspondence were emailed on February 3 and submitters who had indicated in their submission they could not receive electronic correspondence were sent a letter on the same day.

TTR first lodged an application to mine off the South Taranaki coastline in 2013. This was subsequently rejected by the EPA.

The current application was lodged last year and, like the original application, has been met by strong opposition within South Taranaki.

Local iwi Ngāruahine, Ngaa Rauru and Ngāti Ruanui have expressed concerns about the EPA process throughout the latest application.

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