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Monday, July 9, 2012

Be wary on experimental sea bed mining


It is human nature to tell story and enjoy listening to stories.  Our stories, or folklore are our source of learning.  Many of our stories were orally passed down from generations to the present day.  Stories are both good and bad.  Stories make or break relationships, families, societies or even a nation.

In a village there lived a story teller.  He was the eye of the community.  He raised alarm and alerted the community about events, places, people and seasons.  This story teller was similar to the PNG’s police helicopter:  “Eye in the sky”.  He cautioned the community to take cover, be on guard or ready to attack. 

He was also always in communication with the nature.  He read the signs of times.  He understood the sounds of the birds, the crickets, the insects in the forest or at the shore and knew exactly what messages they sent.  By their sounds, smell or taste he could tell the enemy was near, or that there would be a death in the community.  He knew when it would rain, or when the dry season would begin by seeing the direction of the rising sun or the moon setting and the stars position in the sky.  

This story teller enjoyed his status. He also enjoyed the perks and privileges that came with it.  He loved going home at dawn or dusk and tell stories of what he saw and did or had discovered over the mountain top or had seen in his dream.  His stories earned him respect.   His people payed great attention and obeyed many of his advice.

One day the story teller went home and alerted his community of the dangers of tsunami.  He explained to them that a huge wave would come from the east any moment from now and will destroy their entire village.  He warned them to take all their belongings and flee into the mountains. 

Without hesitation, the community obeyed his warnings and fled high up into the mountains.  They waited for days without food but soon realised that there was no tsunami and so they returned home.

After some time, the story teller again warned them to flee to the mountain top to avoid being swept away, drowned or be killed in the tsunami.  And again the communities took heed of his story.  Yet again there was no tsunami.  They returned to the village and rebuilt their homes, resettled and continued their normal lives. 
Then one day, it so happened that the story teller received a real warning of tsunami.  He went to his clan leader and urged the clan elder to blow the shell or beat the garamut (dug out wood used for communication) and warned the community to flee to higher grounds.  But the clan leader by then no longer trusted in his story.  He grabbed him by his throat, and clobbered him to death.

The story teller’s warning was thus ignored and the villagers stayed on in their village happy to see their clan leader dishing out punishment to the deceitful story teller.  Sadly, their refusal to take heed of their story teller’s warning came with a price.  Tsunami had arrived.  It’s huge surge of waters engulfed the entire village drowning everything in its path as it swept across the coastline and taking with it countless lives and destroying huge properties.  By the time it stopped, and receded back to sea, the entire village population and all their properties were wiped out.  Tsunami had left only a few handfuls of villagers who by luck or by some form of miraculously intervention survived this ordeal.  These lucky survivors lived on to tell this story to us.

Today we are at the cross roads.

We have been warned by scientists, non-government organisation representatives, environmental activists, and villagers sharing in the bounty of the marine resources in the Pacific to stop Nautilus Minerals Ltd and the Government of Papua New Guinea from their experimental sea bed mining at the Solwara 1 area in the Bismarck Solomon Seas.

According to an independent Environment Impact Study by Professor Richard Steiner, from the University of Alaska, the Environmental Impact Study by Nautilus Minerals Limited has a lot of flaws.  Dr. Helen Rosenbaum et al’s report in the “Out of our depth” also reported numerous other discrepancies related to this experimental sea bed mining venture. (See Nautilus seabed mining experiment falters and;;;; deepseaminingpacific;; PNG’s endangered turtles; and, links). 

In  a paid advertisement, in July 2007 signed by Paul Daing, director of Bagabag Community Development Association and Reverend Kinim Siloi of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Bagabag Islanders have called on the GoPNG and Nautilus Minerals Corporations Ltd that the 2,000 plus people of Bagabag and surrounding outer islands in Madang Province are absolutely against undersea mining.

They said that they have not been consulted nor given their consent for the operations of this mine.  Amongst other issues raised they argued that:
“We will not allow this mine to destroy our marine ecosystem which we depend on for our survival and will take appropriate action to protect our way of life, our resources, and future generation.
“For 50,000 years, the people of PNG have lived a subsistence life style in harmony with our natural environment.  We have the right to determine our own destiny and at its own pace.  Development in PNG should take place at its own pace, and not be imposed by multinational corporations who see our resources as profits, and the PNG government should put the interest and dreams of the people of PNG before that of outside interests.”

There are a few story tellers here dishing out warning and calling on the PNG government to stop experimental sea bed mining at Solowara 1 in the Bismarck Solomon seas.

Is the PNG Government listening to the story tellers?  Or is the PNG government equally frustrated and angry at the story tellers and is adamant to kill the story tellers and its own people? Will the PNG Government allow experimental sea bed mining to take place in its waters?  Will the PNG Government for the last time take heed of the warning from the story tellers and save our nation by not allowing Nautilus Minerals Limited to go ahead and carry out its experimental sea bed mining?

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