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Ban on Seabed Mining in New Zealand

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A campaign to ban seabed mining in New Zealand has recently claimed a victory for the Ocean as the court of Appeal upheld a ban denying Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) permission to mine the South Taranaki Bight.

The campaign was championed by Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) and Greenpeace. The Local iwi Ngāti Ruanui has also relentlessly opposed the mine and has been a driving force behind the local resistance.

Protest Against Sea be Mining

A spokesperson commented.

“Mining like this not only destroys the seafloor dredged up, but dumping the unwanted matter creates a plume of sediment smothering a much larger area. The proposed mine would have threatened Māui and Hector’s dolphins, New Zealand’s own pygmy blue whales and little penguins, as well as customary and commercial fishing in the area.“

Trans – Tasman Resources had planned to suck up 50 million tonnes of sand a year from a 66 sq km area, The sand would then be processed on a large vessel, and the 10 per cent that holds iron, titanium and vanadium would be exported to Asia. The remaining sand would then be returned to the sea floor.

Seabed mining platform

Cindy Baxter, chairperson of Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, Said

“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,”

Adding that “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,”

While Jessica Desmond, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace, commented.

“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,”

“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.

effects of sea bed mining on Maui Dolphin

“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.”

The campaign to ban Seabed mining in New Zealand has been fought for 15 years now and it is hoped that the victory won in this case will set precedent for the future.

Photo Credit: Greenpeace website

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Adrian Stacey
Scuba Diver ANZ Editor, Adrian Stacey, first learned to dive on the Great Barrier Reef over 24 years ago. Since then he has worked as a dive instructor and underwater photographer in various locations around the world including, Egypt, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico and Saba. He has now settled in Australia, back to where his love of diving first began.

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