Concerns rise over environmental impacts of deep sea mining

Matangi (Tonga)

Members of various regional organisations have voiced their concerns over the prospect of deep sea mining in Pacific waters.

The concerns were raised in a United Nations administered forum known as the Pacific Solution Exchange and highlighted in a press release by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) last week.

The forum hosts e-discussions on topics with contributions from researchers, scientists, civil servants and experts from around the Pacific.

According to the UNDP, Pacific waters are “…now facing large-scale industrial exploitation as mining of the deep seabed for minerals becomes a reality”.

Pacific Political Advisor for Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Ms Seni Nabou stated “As terrestrial minerals become depleted and prices rise, the search for new sources for supply is turning to the sea floor and many non-government organisations remain concerned at the haste in which exploration and mining is taking place,”

“While harvesting these resources could provide a much-needed economic boost to many Pacific Island countries, Greenpeace Australia Pacific and a coalition of Pacific Regional Non-Government Organisations are concerned about the rush to deep seabed mining and have called for a halt to it in the Pacific region”.

“This emerging industry, facilitated greatly by advances in technology, poses a major threat to our oceans, which are already suffering from a number of pressures including overfishing, pollution, and the effects of climate change”.

The concerns were shared by Deep Sea Minerals Project Legal Advisor from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Hannah Lily who stated that in some cases, “Scientists predict the direct impacts of seabed mining of seabed mining are likely to be localised to the mining site, due to the high pressure and low current in the deep ocean, which will restrict sediment dispersal”.

The Pacific Solutions Exchange is a forum that has over 1500 members including practitioners, students, government, concerned elders, and community members in remote islands.
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