Islander backs MP over sea mine

Source: Post Courier

A Manus Islander has come out in support of Northern Governor Gary Juffa and Sumkar MP Ken Fairweather’s stand against Nautilus Minerals Solwara 1 deep sea mining project in the Bismarck Sea.

Mr Norman Sike, founder-director of the Port Moresby Institute of Matriculation Studies (PIMS) and the recently established Norman Sike Institute (NSI) is not convinced that deep sea mining is marine environment friendly. Sike believes all maritime provinces bordering the Bismarck Sea face a distinct possibility of unimaginable environmental degradation of their marine resources in the future in the event of unforeseen disaster from deep sea mining.

Mr Sike said international environmental organisations such as Green Peace and others advocated for the total ban of deep sea mining on the planet and we would do well to heed their warnings. "We must consider the dire consequences of this project very carefully and seriously," he said.

"Livelihood of generations of simple people in and around the Bismarck Sea is being offered as a sacrifice to a concept with no precedent. Mistakes, which invariably occur when new concepts and technology is trialed, will severely affect and probably destroy the migratory fish species within the waters of the Bismarck Sea," Mr Sike said.

The former UPNG Academic stressed that as a Physicist and Mathematician, he was very well aware that untried scientific theory and practices always had its supporters and detractors. "Scientist project probable future outcomes by working from the diligently tested, trialed and proven data with all possible variables factored in. In the Solwara 1 case there is no precedent anywhere else on the planet and very little data on all possible variables. Any and all mistakes that will result from deep sea mining will happen in the Bismarck Sea. Our sea and marine resources are guinea pigs for untried technology," the former UPNG Lecturer said.

He said migratory fish species in the Bismarck Sea moved according to the’ rhythm of life’ established at creation and were not bound or restricted by arbitrary man made sea boundaries in their life cycles. "Who is to say that disastrous effects in the marine food web will not be felt as far south as Oro and Milne Bay or far north as East and West Sepik and the Western Islands of Manus?" Sike posed.

He said his Rei village, Lou Island, Manus is in the Bismarck Sea, north of the vicinity of the Solwara 1 project area."Lou Islanders and other South Manus Islanders within the Bismarck Sea, Madang Coastal and Island people, East and West Sepik Coastal and Island people, people on the northern coast and islands of East and West New Britain and people from the coast and islands of Tewai-Siassi in Morobe, not to mention people from the west coast and islands of New Ireland, have no inkling of the effects of a Pandora’s Box in the process of being opened on their doorsteps," Mr Sike said. He said the people in and around the Bismarck Sea are expected to take the word of deep sea mining proponents on faith that nothing will go wrong.

"All we have is their word. This is living dangerously. Similar assurances were made to the people of Western Province regarding Ok Tedi. Now latest research shows the dire effects reach as far as the waters of the Gulf Province as well. Such projects should be viewed with an open mind and judged by the evidence of negative effects of other major extractive projects," Mr Sike said