Anti-seabed mining campaigners launch petition

Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui Trust chairman Haimona Maruera Jnr, left, chief executive Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and environmental manager Graham Young during the EPA hearing into seabed mining last year


Source: Taranaki Daily News

A new wave of opposition to seabed mining is aiming to finally draw a line in the sand over the controversial practice.

An environmental group and a South Taranaki iwi are both urging the public to sign a petition calling on Environment Minister Nick Smith to place a moratorium on the practice until its environmental, cultural and economic impacts are truly understood.

Te Runanga Ngati Ruanui Trust chief executive Debbie Ngarewa- Packer said it was time the government proved seabed mining could be done with minimal impact - and not leave it to a few "guinea pig" areas to stand up for the environment.

"No one to date has proved seabed mining can be done responsibly. 

"That is why we will continue to oppose it."

Last year, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) knocked back a Trans-Tasman Resources' (TTR) proposal to extract millions of tonnes of ironsand across 65.76 square kilometres of the South Taranaki Bight.

In the EPA's 248-page decision, it said the "major reasons" for declining the application were "the uncertainties in the scope and significance of the potential adverse environmental effects and those on existing interests, such as the fishing interests and iwi".

Those fighting to stop it dead in its tracks have cited concerns relating to effects on marine and coastal ecology, erosion and consequential effects on local communities.

While the handful backing the proposal said it was a worthwhile investment which would contribute to the country's economic growth.

A few months later, the authority cited "high levels of uncertainty" around environmental impacts of another proposal hunting for phosphate on the Chatham Rise.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining chairman Phil McCabe said instead of inviting more "haphazard and inappropriate" applications, he believed it was time the Government went back to the drawing board, and started a national discussion about how New Zealanders wanted to treat their oceans.

"After two failed seabed mining proposals, it has become abundantly clear that we don't know enough about the impacts of this experimental practice, and we need more information," he said.

"The mining industry is now calling for our Government to weaken the laws that govern our oceans to make it easier for them to mine the seabed - that's totally unacceptable.

"We're only just discovering the blue whale foraging ground in the Taranaki Bight – what else is out there that could be affected? We just don't have that information."

The online petition, which is being run through the website, has now reached 3842 signatures