Serious questions for Govt to answer following decision to allow deep-sea mining

The Government has questions to answer following a recent decision by international regulators to give the green-light to a potentially destructive deep-sea mining project in the Pacific. 

Aotearoa New Zealand is a member of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which recently gave permission for a subsidiary of The Metals Company to begin the initial test phase for mining in the Clarion Clipperton Zone, an area of international seas to the east of Kiribati. 

“We need to know what role New Zealand played in this decision, whether it tried to stop it, and how it is going to respond. We expect the New Zealand Government to use its voice and support a moratorium on seabed mining in the high seas, not to give it the green light,” says the Green Party’s oceans and fisheries spokesperson, Eugenie Sage. 

“The ISA has a mandate from the United Nations to protect the seabed. This decision does not give us any confidence that the ISA is doing this job, and it’s really important that we know exactly what part the New Zealand Government has played in allowing mining to go ahead. 

“The Government has repeatedly justified its refusal to support a moratorium on deep sea mining on the basis that it is involved in negotiations at the ISA, which it claims will allow for high environmental standards. According to what we have been told about this process, the very earliest mining could go ahead would be July next year. 

“Speaking in Parliament earlier this year, the Minister for Foreign Affairs said these negotiations were, “the best means to achieve an outcome that deep-sea mining does not take place unless we can ensure the protection of our ocean through setting high environmental standards.”

“And yet, here we are; left wondering if New Zealand has played a role in the ISA decision to allow a potentially destructive project to go ahead before negotiations have concluded. It is a decision that completely flies in the face of what the New Zealand Government has given as its reason for not supporting a moratorium. 

“The Government’s position on deep-sea mining is untenable. In good conscience it cannot be part of a process that appears to be simply going through the motions. The only credible option the Government has is to support an immediate moratorium on seabed mining under the high seas,” says Eugenie Sage.

Teanau Tuiono, the Green Party’s spokesperson for Pacific Peoples added: 

“A healthy ocean is central to life and wellbeing for Pacific peoples. We draw our identity, livelihoods, and our connection to the world around us from the ocean. 

“But the health of our ocean is at huge risk from the reckless pursuit of deep sea mining. This decision to allow mining to go ahead is part of a history of exploitation that has driven our Pacific Ocean to the brink. 

“There is no evidence to suggest that deep sea mining can go ahead without destroying the ocean. We call on New Zealand to stand with the Pacific Parliamentarians’ Alliance on Deep Sea Mining and announce its immediate support for moratorium on deep sea mining,” says Teanau Tuiono.

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