Moratorium on deep sea mining needed right now

The Green Party is calling on the Government to announce its support urgently for a moratorium on deep sea mining under the high seas, after Pacific nations joined forces this week to demand change.

“The tides are turning on mining companies and the New Zealand Government needs to align itself with Pacific leadership and those Pacific states that are calling for an immediate moratorium on Deep Sea Mining,” says Teanau Tuiono, Green Party Pasifica spokesperson.

Responding to questions in Parliament today by Green MPs Teanau Tuiono and Eugenie Sage, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nanaia Mahuta confirmed that the Government would not currently support a moratorium and was instead focused on agreeing a mining code, which would still allow for deep sea mining to occur.

“Previously the Government has argued that it won’t support a moratorium on the harmful and untested practice of deep sea mining on the basis that doing so wouldn't uphold the mana of Pacific states. Well now, Pacific nations are making clear that they want a moratorium – and so, New Zealand needs to act.

“The Government’s position is now out of step with official Government advice.

“Back in 2021, officials told Ministers that “our approach to deep sea mining must recognise the mana of each Pacific Island country.” It turns out Pacific nations want a moratorium.

“This week Palau, Samoa, Fiji came together to launch the Alliance Against Deep Sea Mining at the United Nations Oceans Conference. Papua New Guinea and  the Federated States of Micronesia have previously supported a moratorium.

“If the Government is serious about upholding the mana of Pacific nations then the only option is for the Government to immediately announce its support for a moratorium on deep sea mining under the high seas,” Teanau Tuiono said.

Green Party oceans and fisheries spokesperson, Eugenie Sage added: 

“The United Nations Secretary General has said we have a global emergency for the ocean. We need to protect the seabed and oceans for all humankind, not promote a mining regime.

“Soon after Oceans and Fisheries Minister Parker returns from the United Nations Oceans Conference, the New Zealand Government will be negotiating in the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for a regulatory regime that could allow deepsea mining to start from July 2023. That’s hugely risky.

“The Green Party has little confidence that any code developed by the International Seabed Authority will be sufficiently “robust” to protect ocean health. The Government says it is negotiating to secure high environmental standards - but it could just change its position and support a moratorium. 

“This is the moment for urgent action to stop the reckless pursuit of deep sea mining so we can begin the process of restoring the health of our oceans,” says Eugenie Sage.

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