Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) and Greenpeace today hailed the decision by the New Zealand Court of Appeal denying Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) permission to mine the South Taranaki Bight as a victory for the oceans.
The Court of Appeal confirmed today that the proposed seabed mining operation that would dredge a 66 square kilometre section of the seabed off the coast of Patea for ironsands, does not meet numerous environmental and Treaty of Waitangi principles and therefore could not go ahead.
“This sends a powerful message that New Zealand waters are not open for pillage by seabed miners. We doubt very much that any future investor would now have the appetite for throwing money at what is clearly a lost cause,” said Cindy Baxter, chairperson of Kiwis Against Seabed Mining.
“This sends a powerful message that New Zealand waters are not open for pillage by seabed miners. We doubt very much that any future investor would now have the appetite for throwing money at what is clearly a lost cause”
“This three-year process has been a long, drawn-out battle, underlining the need for a ban on seabed mining. This is the third New Zealand application and again the seabed miners have lost, at enormous expense to local communities, iwi, environmental groups and industry,” she said.
Jessica Desmond, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace, says now is not the time for further exploiting our oceans.
“We have to step back and recognise that seabed mining is simply too destructive to go ahead. We don’t know enough about our fragile marine environment and what mining could do – but the science shows the impacts would be negative,” she says.
“This particular mining operation would put endangered Hector’s dolphins, blue whales, seabirds, and coral life at risk. It’s a risk we cannot afford.
“Our oceans perform a myriad of vital services to humanity – from feeding communities to providing breakthroughs in medical science. It is high time we protected them from harmful activities.
“This seabed mine would have set a very bad precedent for other companies waiting in the wings. Today’s decision will be felt across the Pacific where communities are fighting other similarly damaging huge seabed mining projects.”
Just last month, the UK Government committed to not sponsor nor support the issuing of any exploitation licences for deep sea mining projects until there is sufficient scientific evidence about the potential impact on deep sea ecosystems. They also want to see strong and enforceable environmental standards in place before any mining could go ahead.
Prominent environmentalist Sir David Attenborough has also warned of potential irreversible harm that could be done through seabed mining.
Today’s decision upholds a High Court decision last year that quashed the EPA consent granted to TTR.
The Appeal Court decision also upheld several important points of law the groups had cross-appealed on, as the High Court had rejected these arguments.
These included: including the relevance of international law, the meaning of the legislation regulating New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, its object and purpose, the precautionary principle, the relevance of the Resource Management Act regime, and a financial bond to ensure future environmental harms can be addressed.
Other possible seabed mining bids could come from companies holding either mining or exploration permits off New Plymouth, Waihi Beach, and the Chatham Rise – where Chatham Rock Phosphate has already failed in its first attempt, and has been telling investors it is waiting for this decision to be resolved before it reapplies.
Deb Ngarewa-Packer, Kaiarataki at Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui from Aotearoa (New Zealand) shared this emotional video message to let everyone know that they have won the case against seabed mining in their waters in Aotearoa. This is a big win which could mean seabed mining in Aotearoa (New Zealand) won’t simply not be possible in NZ under this decision.
New regulations for essential fish habitat off the West Coast of the United States that go into effect in 2020 will extend protections for deep-sea habitats and corals while reopening fishing grounds where fish populations have rebounded.
PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
27th JULY, 2019
Kingston, Jamaica – 27th July 2019 – The International Seabed Authority (ISA) concluded its two week annual meeting yesterday following a round of speeches to mark the 25th Anniversary of the organization. The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) called on the member countries of the ISA to shift priorities to properly protect the deep ocean, which makes up 90% of the marine environment.
The ISA has served a critical role since its inception, under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to ensure that unregulated mining in the international areas of world’s ocean does not occur. Currently only regulations that allow for exploration for minerals are in force.
During discussions over the past two weeks, ISA members continued debating draft mining regulations to enable commercial seabed mining to take place. Countries had previously set 2020 as the target for adopting the commercial regulations. However, many countries this week voiced concern over rushing the negotiations to meet that deadline. While the regulations may not be adopted next year, many countries expressed support for making the transition from ‘exploration’ to ‘exploitation’ of the deep sea within the next few years.
“We’re calling on States to reconsider whether they should permit deep seabed mining in the first place, given how little we know about deep-sea ecosystems, and whether it is even possible to mine the deep ocean and prevent the loss of species and biodiversity” said Matthew Gianni, co-founder of the DSCC.
States agreed to amend provisions to a key operational document adopted by the ISA this week. This could allow for the public release of contracts and the annual reports, which are currently kept confidential, on activities undertaken in the deep sea by the companies and countries that have exploration licenses with the ISA.
A proposal for highly restrictive guidelines for NGO attendance at meetings of the ISA was soundly rejected by member States, with many countries expressing concerns that reducing observer participation would discourage transparency and accountable decision-making. Nonetheless, the key advisory body of the ISA, the Legal and Technical Commission, continues
to meet behind closed doors in spite of a decision by member countries of the ISA two years ago that it should hold open meetings.
“This underlines the very difficult job of negotiating robust, transparent and effective regulations for the deep sea,” said Duncan Currie, an international lawyer who attended the annual meeting for the DSCC. “Many States appreciate the need for inclusive, transparent regulations that will ensure the effective protection of the marine environment.”
Calls for a moratorium on deep-seabed mining are gaining support. In May of this year, the Long Distance Advisory Council of the European Union, whose members include representatives of the EU’s high seas and distant water fishing fleets, trade unions and NGOs, called for a moratorium on ISA sponsored deep-seabed mining. This follows similar calls made by the European Parliament in 2018, the UN’s Special Envoy for the Oceans, Greenpeace, the Deep Sea Mining Campaign and others. The UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee released a report in January of this year, concluding that “deep-sea mining would have catastrophic impacts on the seafloor site and its inhabitants,” and that “the case for deep-sea mining has not yet been made”.
Scientists continue to raise serious concerns over the potential impact of seabed mining on deep-sea species and ecosystems. In a letter this week to the ISA, scientists warned that deep seabed mining could cause irreversible and inevitable harm to marine life, including extinctions of species, and drive the climate crisis by disrupting ‘blue carbon’ stored in the seabed. The ISA now has an unprecedented opportunity to shift its current pro-mining agenda to become a champion for the research, understanding and protection of the deep-sea environment for the benefit of humankind.
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Contacts: Matthew Gianni email@example.com +31-646 168 899
For many years, scientists have tried to account for the amount of plastic waste that should be in the world’s oceans, given how much is estimated to leak into the seas every year. So far, the tally points to the largest concentrations on the surface and in coastal waters. But much of it remains “missing.”
And scientists can’t fully assess whatever harm plastics cause to the environment until they learn where they are. Now, new research off the California coast suggests an even larger plastics reservoir: deep offshore pelagic waters, the largest habitat on Earth.
I believe there is not a portion of the ground but what the trawl destroys,” explained G Cormack, a fisherman from Torry, Aberdeen. “I have dragged 50 miles off Aberdeen. I have got fast there and brought up coral about 2.5ft in circumference, lumps of soft coral, and I am prepared to say that whatever is in the way of the trawler will not escape.”