Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Call for SPC to listen to Pacific communities over seabed mining
The Pacific’s technical advisory body, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, is being urged to listen to the views of the region’s communities on seabed mining, reports Radio NZ
The SPC has drafted a legislative framework on deep sea mining, intended as a guide for Pacific countries with ocean floor mineral resources.
The national co-ordinator of Papua New Guinea’s marine conservation group, Mas Kagin Tapani, joins others in criticising the European Union-funded framework for its lack of protection of those likely to be affected by extractive work.
PNG is the first Pacific country to have granted a commercial mining licence, with a Bismarck Sea project scheduled to start in 2013.
Mas Kagin Tapani’s Wenceslaus Magun says 85 percent of PNG people and especially those in the vicinity of the project live on marine life.
“SPC, being Pacific Islanders working for SPC, they know that very well. They have to come out, get out of their air-conditioned offices there in Fiji, come to Papua New Guinea, visit the local communities, call for the views of the people themselves, not please the European Union who is funding their operations in Fiji.”
Pacific concerns over seabed mining
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A group based in Papua New Guinea is seeking public support to try to force governments to reconsider the push to exploit potential mineral resources in seabed mining, reports the ABC.
Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat reports the Pacific’s seabed mineral wealth has attracted the attention of business and governments, expecially in areas where there are few other sources of economic income.
The group Act Now PNG says Papua New Guinea has recently approved the world’s first seabed mining operation; Tonga and Nauru have issued exploration licences in international waters; and Fiji is expected to soon issue a licence.
There are concerns resources will be mined with little benefit coming back to the people of a region, and with likely damage to livelihoods and lifestyles long after miners have left.
Effrey Dademo, of Act Now PNG, says the group wants wider Pacific support so it can take a formal statement to the next meeting of Pacific Island leaders.
She notes that PNG has seen civil war and environmental disasters during its experience with land-based mining.
Ms Dademo said seabed mining is still at an experimental stage and there was scientific evidence to say it could destroy underwater hydro-thermal vents, a habitat for rare marine creatures.